Connor Hood, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON – In a game with the same high intensity and physicality shown in Game 1, the host Alberta Golden Bears were able to hang on for a thrilling 86-68 win over Lethbridge in Game 3 of their quarter-final series.
The win sends the Golden Bears to the Canada West semifinal, which marks their third-straight trip. They will host the highest remaining seed next weekend at Saville Community Sports Centre.
The Bears led by as little as four early in the fourth, before outscoring Lethbridge by 14 down the stretch to earn the win.
Brody Clarke led the Bears with a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds, while rookie Adam Paige added 17, and Ivan Ikomey chipped in with 15. The Bears hit 14 threes on 44% shooting, including four in the fourth quarter.
Colton Gibb led Lethbridge with 19 points, while fifth-year star Zac Overwater was held in check again with just six points and five boards.
The Bears were absolutely lethal in the first quarter, shooting an absurd 75% from the floor, hitting 7/8 three-point attempts. Clarke led Alberta with 10 points on 3/4 shooting, while Adam Paige and Dwan Williams each added six.
Lethbridge was held in check, scoring just 18 first-quarter points, making only 35% of their shots early.
The Bears cooled off considerably in the second, scoring only 15 compared to the 31 they scored in the first. The biggest drop was their three-point percentage, as they made only one on seven attempts in the second. Lethbridge had a similar quarter, with three players with eight or more points after two.
An 18-15 second-quarter Pronghorn edge cut in to the Alberta lead, as they trailed by 10 at the half.
Both teams upped their defensive intensity in the third quarter, as the Bears and Pronghorns each had trouble finding open shots. The pressure of the game was evident in the third as well, with both teams showing signs of tension, combining to shoot 24%.
Ikomey hit-back-to-back 3's late in the quarter, giving the Bears a 13-point lead. A buzzer-beater from Brett Warren cut the lead back to 10 after three.
The visitors continued to chip into the Alberta lead early in the fourth, dropping it to as little as four in the first three minutes
The Bears, thanks to some timely shots, including Paige and Ikomey 3's, pulled away late.
Alberta will host either UBC or Saskatchewan next weekend in one of two conference semifinal series'.