Connor Hood, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - In the final conference game of the 2016/17 Canada West season, the University of Alberta Pandas cruised to a 67-47 win against the visiting University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, Sunday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Elle Hendershot finished with a game-high 19 points on 8-10 shooting on Sunday, while also finishing with one rebound short of a double-double. In her final home conference game, fifth-year Panda Maddie Rogers chipped in 11 points, six boards and four assists.
Zoe Dahl led the Pronghorns with 14 points on 6-12 shooting, including 2-8 from beyond the arc. Danielle Fritzke also recorded nine points, two rebounds and two assists on Sunday.
With a win, the Pronghorns would jump into the 12th and final playoff position in Canada West. The Pandas, meanwhile, had already clinched not only a playoff spot, but also the fourth and final first round playoff 'bye'.
With an incredible amount at stake, Lethbridge came out hot on Sunday, making their first three shots, all from distance, to race out to a quick 9-2 lead. That hot play, however, quickly dried up, as the Pronghorns finished the first quarter shooting just 1-15. The Pandas rolled off a 17-2 run to end the first quarter, backed by seven points from Aimee Wilson, and four from Rodgers, leading 17-11 after one.
The poor shooting from the visitors carried over into the second quarter, with Lethbridge unable to find their rhythm with a 23.5% shooting second quarter. Alberta had no trouble with their offence, leading by as much as 15 before the end of the first half. Hendershot scored six of her 19 points in the second quarter, while Megan Tywoniuk also dropped in five in the second as the Pandas took a 36-21 lead into the break.
The Pronghorns, needing quite the comeback to reach the post-season, couldn't find their touch whatsoever on Sunday after the torrid start, knocking in just three of their 14 shots in the third quarter, finishing with a 28.8 shooting percentage. The Pandas, using mostly bench players in the second half, cruised to a 54-33 lead after three, before taking the final game by 20 with another 13 points in the fourth quarter.
With the first round playoff 'bye' in the Canada West post-season, the Pandas will host a conference quarterfinal series February 24-26th at Saville Community Sports Centre. Being ranked fourth means the Pandas will play the winner of the play-in series between No. 12 UNBC and No. 5 UBC, next weekend.