Golden Bears Basketball
EDMONTON – With their 10th game of the season hitting the century mark on the scoreboard, the No.3 University of Alberta Golden Bears earned a 106-78 decision over the No.10 University of Saskatchewan Huskies to finish first in the conference standings, Saturday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Alberta also extends their win streak to 14 games and finish with a 19-1 record, the regular season conference title giving the Golden Bears a “bye” through the first weekend of the Canada West playoffs before hosting two quarterfinals and a semi-final on the weekend of February 21-23. The Huskies fall to 12-8 but will also move onto the post-season.
Four of five starters, three of them playing their final regular season home game, cracked double digits on the scoresheet, senior forward Brody Clarke netting a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds while fellow seniors Ivan Ikomey and Dwan Williams scored 20 points and six points, respectively. Fourth-years Cole Knudsen and Tyus Jefferson (both starters) as well as sophomores Adam Paige and Brandon Meiklejohn tallied 10 points apiece.
Fourth-year guard Emmanuel Akintunde notched a game-high 25 points for the Huskies while sophomore guards Alexander Dewar and Noah Nickel put up 18 points each.
Clarke, fresh off claiming fourth in team history in career scoring on Friday night, scored the game’s first five points, following his opening three-pointer with a left-hand layup off the glass. The Toronto, Ont. native got a total of nine points in Alberta’s opening 17-4 run, the home team adding a 10-2 run late in the first frame to take a 30-19 lead after 10 minutes.
The Golden Bears continued to control most of the play in the second, earning 14 points in the paint while Akintunde did most of the scoring for Saskatchewan, netting 10 of his team’s 16 points in the quarter.
Fighting an increasing deficit, Nickel cut it to 17 with less than 20 seconds to play with a shot from long distance, only to have sophomore guard Geoffrey James hit a buzzer-beater from further downtown at the top of the arc, restoring the 20-point lead and putting Alberta ahead 55-35 at halftime.
After only shooting 36% in the first half, the Huskies got better in the third quarter, especially from beyond the arc, but so did the Bears, Clarke draining a three 90 seconds after heading into the paint from the same spot on the arc shoulder to grab a momentous slam dunk. The Engineering student put up nine total points in the third quarter, that dunk virtually cementing the victory as Alberta pushed the lead over 30 with the senior’s efforts.
Saskatchewan didn’t give up, however, starting out strong to start the final frame, yet the Bears kept getting baskets to keep up their lead. With the game well in hand, the three graduating seniors for Alberta left the court for the final time midway through the fourth quarter, the depth players for the home team finishing off the game with the final 10 points to get the Golden Bears to their tenth 100-point performance of the season.
The full playoff schedule will come soon to the Canada West website (www.canadawest.org) to detail where the Saskatchewan Huskies will play and who the Alberta Golden Bears will host in two weeks.