Alberta (18-4, 11-1) 81, Calgary (13-2, 8-2) 80... 6’1″ Austin Waddoups knocked down a 17 foot jumper from the left wing with just 6 seconds remaining as the Golden Bears came up with gritty road win at Jack Simpson Gym in front of a large, energetic crowd in what was a signature U-Sport men’s affair between two of the top teams in the country. Earlier, 6’5″ Thomas Cooper‘s breakaway dunk off a steal after jumping the passing lane gave the Dinos a one-point lead but Waddoups beat a close-out off a ball reversal and converted a one-dribble pull-up. 6’4″ Jasdeep Gill‘s attempt at a game-winning three from the left baseline came up short at the buzzer and Alberta kept things clogged and interesting at the top of the Canada West standings in advance of Bears pair of games next weekend at UBC.
It was a spectacular bounce back night for Waddoups (19 points on 3-5 3’s, 5 rebounds, 6 assists), a transfer from Utah, after Thursday night’s lackluster effort as earlier, with Calgary leading by 4 and just 1 minute remaining, Waddoups aggressively drove the lane, finishing a difficult lay-in with his left hand while being fouled for the “and 1”. Later, after Calgary’s 6’6″ Lars Schleuter air-balled a three from the top of the bowl, 6’7″ Brody Clarke (14 points, 8 rebounds) nailed a pair of dramatic free throws to give Alberta the lead, setting up the final three possessions. Bears dynamic 6’7″ wing forward Mamadou Gueye (22 points to lead all scorers) also bounced back with a strong offensive effort last night, putting himself into better positions on the floor to finish and generally showing more energy and aggression attacking the rim.
Golden Bears started strong, building a 10 point lead at 37-27 as 6’4″ Geoff Pippus had 10 first half points but a spectacular, three-pointer filled 18-0 Calgary run over a 3 minute span late in the second, highlighted by three 3’s on consecutive possessions by Gill – all with Cooper on the bench – gave Calgary the lead and the momentum back. But Waddoups knocked down a three-pointer and the Bears survived, down just 3 heading into halftime.
Alberta generally disrupted Dinos star scorer Cooper, sending a second and sometimes third defender at Calgary’s leading scorer and turning him into a passer. Cooper had only 3 first-half points and finished with 14, well under his 23 ppg average. Gill finished with 14 points, all in the first half, going scoreless in 7 second-half minutes.
But in the end, Alberta (ex-3 minute late 2nd quarter 18-0 stretch) generally locked down the Cooper and Dinos at the defensive end, won the rebounding battle decisively and got huge performances down the stretch from their big three of Gueye, Waddoups and Clarke who combined to score the final 26 Golden Bears points.
Calgary hosts Fraser Valley for a pair of games next week (Thursday and Friday) while Alberta travels to UBC, who bounced back for a decisive win at Saskatchewan last night, for games Friday and Saturday.