SASKATOON – The University of Alberta Golden Bears men's basketball team took the lead early and never looked back en route to posting a 94-80 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies on Fifth Year Night inside the PAC.
Ivan Ikomey of the Golden Bears scored the first eight points of the game to help his squad move to 13-5 on the season, where they are currently in a battle for a bye through the first round of the Canada West playoffs.
The Huskies meanwhile, fall to 10-8 on the year and will enter the final weekend of the season with their eventual landing spot in the conference standings still extremely unclear. A first round bye is still possible for the Huskies depending on how games across the conference go in that all-important final weekend, however they know they will be in the postseason with a playoff spot clinched.
The biggest difference between the two teams on the night was offensive efficiency.
Alberta shot 55.0 per cent from the floor while also knocking down 42.3 per cent of their attempts from beyond the arc. One night after hot-shooting led them to an upset of Alberta, Saskatchewan was held to just 39.2 per cent from the floor and 29.6 per cent from three-point land.
Ikomey scored a game-high 23 points with nearly all of his damage coming from distance as the fourth-year guard knocked down 7 of his 12 attempts from long range. Brody Clarke had a strong game in the paint for the visitors, scoring 18 points and collecting six rebounds, while Andre Kelly rounded out the scoring for Alberta with 11 points after he went a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe.
Lawrence Moore and Joseph Barker both marked their final regular season home games as a Huskie with a strong showing. Moore had a team-high 18 points and six assists and Barker finished just one point shy of the double-double, as the fifth year from Saskatoon scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds. For the second night in a row rookie Alexander Dewar had a big impact for the Huskies, finishing with 14 points.
Ikomey served notice of his strong night to come when he helped the Golden Bears take a 10-0 lead by scoring the first eight points of the game.
Saskatchewan would rebound from their slow start and Akintunde tallied seven points in the quarter, but the Bears made 11 of the 18 shots they attempted in the frame to hold a 29-17 lead after the first quarter.
The Huskies were able to slow down the Golden Bears offence in the second but were unable to go on a prolonged scoring run themselves, trimming the lead to six points on multiple occasions before Alberta, led by five points from Tyus Jefferson in the frame were able to widen the gap and enter the halftime break with an 11-point advantage.
The story was much the same in the third quarter.
Alberta increased the lead to 15 on an Ikomey three near the halfway mark of the third and while Moore battled back with seven points in the frame, the closest the Huskies could cut the lead down to was 10 before Alberta scored the final five points of the quarter to hold the 74-59 lead entering the fourth.
Alberta kept the pressure on in the fourth frame and after a free-throw from Clarke extended their lead to 20 points halfway through the final quarter, they were able to run out the clock and walk away from Saskatoon with the weekend split.
Both of these teams will be in action in what will be the final weekend of the Canada West regular season.
The Huskies will take on another tough team when they travel to Regina to face the Cougars while Alberta will return to Edmonton to play the 17-1 UBC Thunderbirds, a team that hasn't lost since Saskatchewan defeated them on the opening weekend of the season.