EDMONTON — Maybe it was the 41 days off between conference games, or possibly a bit of a holiday hangover, but the University of Alberta Pandas overcame a tough shooting night to beat the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat, 64-55, Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Sophomore point guard Morgan Mudge recorded a career-high 14 points alongside four assists, four rebounds, and three steals, while senior guard Vanessa Wild led Alberta with 17 points and six rebounds in the victory, which saw Alberta shoot just 33.3% from the field.
Senior forward Ana Evans led the Heat with 19 points in the loss. The Pandas improve to 9-2 and have won five straight games, while UBCO drops to 2-11.
“We had rusty shooting. We were eight or nine points below what we normally score, but more importantly, I thought UBCO played their tails off tonight,” said Pandas head coach Scott Edwards.
“Getting Jaeli Ibbetson back from injury gave them all kinds of energy and they played with a lot of tempo. They played their hearts out tonight.”
Alberta trailed 15-13 after the opening quarter, but started to find their game in the second quarter, especially on the defensive end, forcing UBCO into
making costly turnovers to take a 33-24 lead into halftime.
Alberta found their stride in the third quarter and went on a 10-0 run to start the half. Wild went coast-to-coast and earned the tough bucket to give the Pandas a 47-29 lead, but then their offence sputtered again.
UBCO went on a 13-0 run to end the third quarter and quickly closed the Pandas' big lead to single digits.
“We were sloppy with the ball and we kept turning it over. We got up by 18, and I think the team thought it was going to be easy and stopped playing and UBCO didn’t stop playing through that stretch,” said Edwards.
“We missed a lot of inside shots that we normally hit and I think that added some frustration and there was some miscommunication defensively and it got away from us a little bit.”
Fourth-year forward Mackenzie Cook hit a layup two minutes into the fourth quarter to stop the Heat’s run to snap the Pandas out of their funk.
Despite not finding the score sheet in the fourth quarter, Mudge, who’s known for her energy on floor, found ways to get all her teammates involved at both ends of the court, helping cool off the Heat’s fourth-quarter charge.
“She always brings the energy, and she’s learning to use that in the right direction and tonight was a great example of the type of athlete she is,” said Edwards. “She was attacking the basket and got to the line, she made smart decisions with the ball all game and she was dynamic in transition. I was really proud of her effort.”
Alberta will look for their sixth-straight win on Saturday when they battle UBCO in their second game of their weekend series. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. MT.