Second-half comeback earns Pandas the sweep

Second-half comeback earns Pandas the sweep

Paul Cartledge - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics

EDMONTON – Outscoring the UBC Thunderbirds 36-19 in the final 20 minutes, the University of Alberta Pandas took a 60-52 victory and a 2-0 best-of-three quarter-final series sweep, Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.

Senior guard Maddie Rogers scored a team-high 13 points, five assists, and four steals while sophomore forward Brooklyn Legault and sophomore guard Megan Tywoniuk netted 12 and 11 points, respectively. Fourth-year forward Elle Hendershot had another big night under the glass, recording a game-high 15 rebounds while no other player on either side had more than six.

Second-year guard Jessica Hanson had 13 points to lead the visitors, fellow sophomore guard Maddison Penn adding 12 while going 6-for-7 at the charity stripe. Senior forward Kara Spotton also cracked the double-digit barrier with 11 points.

Coming out strong to try and extend the series, the Thunderbirds opened with a 10-2 run in the opening frame and managed to expand it to 19-6 with just over two minutes left, but the feisty Pandas closed the lead with five straight points to end the quarter.

The 'Birds returned the favour in the second, however, scoring 10 points off Alberta's 11 turnovers, even though the home team kept pace on the scoreboard, netting the last two buckets of the quarter to enter the dressing room only down by nine.

Though the two squads fought back and forth to start the second half, third-year guard Aimee Wilson's injury was a blessing in disguise for the hosts, the Panda injury giving way to a big Alberta momentum swing.

Down by 10 points, Tywoniuk drained a baseline trey 14 seconds after Wilson left the court, only to be followed by two straight three-balls from sophomore guard Vanessa Wild in 30 seconds to cut the deficit to one.

Fourth-year guard Shilpa Khanna swished her own long-distance trey a minute later to regain UBC some momentum and it looked more like it when three consecutive Panda shots in the dying seconds of the quarter failed to connect, leaving Alberta only 10 minutes to end the series in two games and down by four.

Unsurprisingly, a defensive battle broke out in the final frame, only six points getting scored in the first four minutes but team leader Rogers found Legault in tight for a bucket off the glass with 5:27 left and a tie game.

Rogers then followed with two straight layups, the first rolling around the rim before falling and the second on an extended run from half-court.

After Penn got the visitors back to within two with just over two minutes left, Tywoniuk replied with a three-ball from the bottom of the arc elbow before Rogers and Spotton traded baskets so that the T-birds were down by seven with just over a minute left.

Unfortunately for UBC, foul trouble kept bringing senior guard Shay Crisp to the charity stripe, the former Victoria Vike knocking back four of six in the waning seconds of the game and putting Alberta up by 10 with 12.7 seconds left.

A final long deuce by Penn with 4.2 seconds left closed out the scoring.

Alberta now advances to the Canada West Final Four, hosting duties going to the top remaining seed after conference quarter-final action.