Lethbridge (3-2) 77, Bishop’s (2-3) 71… (With much thanks to our Southern Alberta correspondent) University of Lethbridge Pronghorns completed a weekend home sweep over the Bishop’s Gaiters Saturday evening, battling back from a 42-24 half-time deficit, to ultimately prevail and sweep their weekend series in Southern Alberta. ‘Horns made a run in the third quarter to cut the visitor’s edge to 54-51 after three frames. However, with five minutes left in regulation, following two crowd deflating Lethbridge missed wide open dunks, Gaiters were on top 68-57.
The home boys then went on a 16-0 run and ultimately closed the show.
Bishops were playing their third U Sports (I like the change actually) road game in three nights perhaps 3,000 km from home. They started the trip with a 89-69 triumph over Mount Royal in Calgary on Thursday, before rolling into the ‘Bridge for a twin-bill. Friday evening the Gaiters were felled 71-69 on a buzzer beater.
Both teams primarily played quarter-court man defence with a lot of switching and doubling away from the basket. It was a physical affair.
From a Lethbridge perspective it was great to have a non-Canada West U Sports visitor. It may well have been over a decade. Thanks to Bishop’s bench boss Rod Gilpin.
Bishops only brought ten players on the trip, with three likely rotation performers (6’2″, Kevin Davis, knee; 6’8″, Yassin Naji, ankle; and 6’11”, Jonah Fogg, concussion) remaining at home. By Saturday it was a nine-man active troupe as stocky 6’4″, David Belanger was relegated to spectator status by a knee ailment suffered in Friday’s match, where he scored 18 points and pulled in 14 boards.
6′ point guard Jona Bermillo led a balanced Bishop’s attack Saturday with 18 points. He was continually probing the D. 6’4″ Abdul Kamane and 6’8″ Owen Martel added 12 and 10 respectively. Looking at the game through a Bishop’s prism there was understandable fatigue. As well, from a statistical standpoint, the biggest issue (perhaps reflective of the fatigue) was poor (26-74) field shooting.
Undersized , thin, 6’4″, 4-man Mike Pierzchala continued his strong early season play for Lethbridge with 23 points (on only 10 shots from the floor, including 6-9 on treys), while gathering 10 caroms. 6’4″ wing Elliott Sentance netted 21 markers and grabbed eight boards. 6’0″ starting guards Dejon Burdeaux and Josh Sparkes finished with nine points. Perhaps most importantly after sitting over 15 minutes in the first half with two very early fouls Burdeaux brought the heat defensively throughout the second stanza. There cannot be too many better on ball perimeter defenders in the country.
Gaiters oppose Ottawa, Waterloo and Toronto in the nation’s capital during the Jack Donahue tournament next week.
‘Horns host Regina and perennial NAIA Division I power Carroll College (Helena, Montana) at the U of L Friday and Saturday. Alberta (head coach Barnaby Craddock is a former U of L all-Canadian and seems to find a way to make an annual visit here in years where the Bears don’t have a Lethbridge league engagement) is also in the event, where each team gets two games.
It’s unknown whether U of L bench boss Mike Hansen will be back following hip surgery. On campus assistant Alex Fletcher has fashioned a 3-2 mark in Hansen’s absence, aided-and-abetted by two decade aid Rick Pawlak.