EDMONTON- In the final weekend of regular season play, the University of Alberta Pandas upset the No. 1 ranked University of Saskatchewan Huskies, 78-71, Friday night at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
With both teams having already clinched playoff spots prior to this weekend’s match up, both were playing for momentum as they head into the post season. The Pandas’ win means they now find themselves just two points back of the conference-leading Huskies and the University of Calgary Dinos, both of whom are tied with 34 points.
Leading Alberta to the win was third-year guard Jenna Harpe with 17 points, five rebounds, and two steals. While fellow guard, second-year Morgan Mudge, also had a strong performance on the night with 16 points, four assists, and was the team’s leader in rebounds with seven.
Across the court, senior guard Sabine Dukate lead her team with 16 points and four assists, while playing a staggering 36 minutes for the Huskies. Scoring alongside Dukate was fourth-year forward Summer Masikewich with 15 points and five rebounds.
The Pandas opened the scoring early, when fourth-year forward Mackenzie Cook sunk her shot from in tight. Alberta maintained the majority of possession in the first, keeping the ball in hand and holding a slim lead for almost nine minutes.
With the intensity amped up to start the second, the Huskies erased the Pandas six-point lead and created a six-point advantage of their own, before the hosts closed the gap with a 10-point run.
As the clock ticked down, the huskies found themselves once again hunting for the lead with 4.8 seconds left, but with stellar defence, the Pandas forced their visitors to take a shot clock violation, giving the Pandas one last shot to end on a high and Mudge did just that, draining a deep three as time expired, giving Alberta a four-point lead going into the halftime break.
The third found both teams battling for possession, exchanging chances and points. The continuous back-and-forth action caused both teams to find themselves in a similar spot to where they started the half, with the Huskies still down by four.
After leading a majority of the game, the momentum officially stuck for the Pandas at the midway point of the fourth quarter, generating their largest lead, 73-63, when senior guard Vanessa Wild stepped back for a trey of her own. Essentially putting the nail in the coffin, fourth-year forward Brooklyn Legault shut the door with her block on Masikewich, allowing the Pandas a fast break, with Mudge putting away another two points, sealing the win.
Both teams will meet again tomorrow night at 5:00 P.M. MT to close out the weekend and the regular season. A series sweep could mean the Pandas will tie the Huskies in conference standings.