EDMONTON — It was looking like the University of Alberta Pandas were headed for another tough shooting night against the University of British Columbia-Okanagan Heat, but senior guard Lauren Earl came to the rescue. Sometimes you just need a little “bucket luck” and Earl hit a three-pointer that wasn’t highlight-reel quality, but it gave Alberta some breathing room and sparked the Pandas to victory, beating UBCO 75-56, Saturday evening at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Senior guard Vanessa Wild led Alberta with 25 points, six rebounds, and four assists, while Earl recorded 13 points and six rebounds to give Alberta their sixth-straight win and improved to 10-2 in conference play.
Jaeli Ibbetson led UBCO with 15 points and two rebounds.
“I think you saw our whole team just relax after that (Earl three-pointer),” said Pandas head coach Scott Edwards. “Her and a few others on the team haven’t hit a lot of shots lately and to see that shot go down for a kid that works so hard; I’m proud of her, and it gave the rest of our team a lot of confidence.”
Despite UBCO’s struggles this season (2-12), they pushed Alberta for a second-straight night. They held Alberta to just 38.2% shooting in the first half, and Alberta held a slim 38-35 lead entering the break.
UBCO continued to hang with the Pandas and trailed just 45-42 midway through the third quarter, and that’s when Earl’s trey opened the floodgates. Alberta locked it down defensively, holding UBCO to just 21 second-half points.
“We executed well, we moved the ball well, but the shots just weren’t falling, and that can be very frustrating, but today I was proud of them,” said Edwards. “They stayed mentally engaged, especially on the defensive side of the game. We played tough regardless of how things were going for us offensively.”
Alberta got their offence rolling in the second half and saw a mix of veterans and young talent produce.
Senior forward Brooklyn Legault chipped in with 11 points and four rebounds, while sophomore guard Morgan Mudge recorded eight points, four assists, and four steals, freshman forward Sydney Fedick recording eight points and four rebounds.
“We’re going to rely on V (Vanessa Wild) heavily and she’s in her fifth year and she’s capable of stepping up, but we need some other girls to step up and hit double digits and we’ve been getting that a lot lately,” said Edwards.
What I like about this group is that we’re showing that it can be anyone on any given night that can step up and deliver for us and we need that to continue for us to have success.”
Next up, Alberta will battle their fellow Edmonton-based team, the MacEwan Griffins, on Jan. 16-18 in a home-and-home series, while UBCO hosts the University of Northern British Columbia next weekend (Jan. 17-18).