Matt Gutsch - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON – The University of Alberta Pandas basketball team scored 25 points fourth quarter points to earn a 71-68 victory over the Brandon Bobcats during season opening action at the Saville Community Sports Centre on Friday night.
Alberta's outburst erased a 53-46 deficit from the start of the fourth quarter to propel the Pandas to their first win of the season. They opened the final frame with an 11-0 run to turn the tide, but had to fend off a persistent Bobcats team that led the contest for most of the game. In fact, Brandon looked in control heading into the fourth, after outscoring their hosts 18-8 in the third quarter.
Maddie Rogers paced Alberta's offence with a team high 20 points as well as a game high six assists. She drained two of Alberta's five three-pointers, and also picked up a steal and five rebounds.
Alberta also got 10 points and nine boards from fourth-year Elle Hendershot and 16 points from 2016 CIS Rookie of the Year Brooklyn Legault. The sophomore forward also collected seven rebounds in the win.
But, it was rookie Lauren Earl who got the ball rolling in the comeback win as the Saskatoon native drained a three-pointer at the start of the fourth to kick start Alberta's 11-0 run. She then added five more points, including another three, to score eight of the Pandas' first 11 points in the fourth. She also picked up one steal, early in the fourth, while playing just 15 minutes in her U Sports debut.
The Bobcats, coming off a 7-13 season in 2015-16, gave the Pandas fits all game long, utilizing a full court press defence, and appeared as though they might open the season 1-0. They rode fourth-years Keisha Cox and Mikaela Stanton, both of whom hail from Oceanside, California and previously played for Palomar College, for 34 minutes each and got a combined 53 points from the guards. Cox in particular was red hot for the entire game, torching the Pandas for 34 points, including five three-pointers (on 10 attempts), while registering a 13 of 24 night from the floor in general. She also earned two assists and a game high three steals, while Stanton banked 19 points. The pair scored 77% of their team's offence on the night.
The scoring fell off from there for Brandon, however, as they got their remaining 14 points from just two other players, with Lauren Anderson scoring nine and Amy Williams adding six. No other Bobcat scored a point on the night.
Alberta and Brandon will clash again on Saturday in game two of their 2016-17 Canada West season opening series at the Saville Community Sports Centre. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. MST, and the game can be watched live at canadawest.tv.