WBB: Pandas hold off Timberwolves 86-72

January 18, 2019

EDMONTON — Head coach Scott Edwards knew he'd need a complete team effort from his University of Alberta Pandas against the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves and they came through for their head coach with an 86-72 victory, Friday night at the Saville Community Sports Centre.

Fourth-year guard Vanessa Wild led the Pandas with 20 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and four steals and third-year guard Emma Kary had 16 points, six rebounds, and three assists, but it was the play of veterans Brooklyn Legault, Lauren Earl, and Megan Tywoniuk that made the difference in the decision over UNBC.

Fourth-year power forward Maria Mongomo led UNBC with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while third-year small forward Madison Landry had 22 points. The Pandas held Canada West leading scorer Vasiliki Louka to 14 points and 10 rebounds on a tough shooting night (3-for-12) for the senior center.

The win is Alberta’s 11th-straight, improving to 13-2 while UNBC drops to 9-6 on the season. The 11-game win streak matches the Pandas streak set back in the 2016-17 season.

“They have three absolute world-class players. We knew we’d have to (score) by committee more than they do to be successful,” said Edwards.

“We got great performances from Brooklyn Legault at both ends of the floor and Jenna Harpe and Lauren Earl really hit some big shots to get us going.”

Alberta led 41-34 at halftime, but was getting dominated on the glass while their usually dependable three-point shooting was ice cold. Yet in the third quarter, the Pandas went to work on the glass and made it tough on Mongomo and Louka to generate their dominance in the paint.

Legault was a force in the paint at both ends of the floor and she chipped in with 12 points and six rebounds, while Lauren Earl scored nine points, Tywoniuk and Harpe hitting some clutch shots to finish with eight points each.

The Pandas went on a 10-0 run to start the second half, and they simply didn’t look back as they held UNBC to just 27.8% shooting in the third quarter. The Timberwolves only made nine shots from the field in the second half and 18 of their 38 second-half points came off free throws.

“We talked about it at the end of the half and our talk at halftime. This is a team that can score, and they’re a tremendous offensive team and to give up that many offensive boards in the first half was disheartening,” said Edwards.

“We had a seven-point lead at the half, but we knew we had to find a way to stop them in the paint and make it tougher on them.”

The Pandas held UNBC to just 13 points in the third quarter and forced the Timberwolves into taking a lot of uncomfortable shots outside the paint.

“We couldn’t score in that third quarter. They’re a good team and they really shut us down,” said Timberwolves head coach Sergey Shchepotkin.

“We’re a new program and we still have problems to get into games against good teams. We didn’t have the effort tonight that we needed against a team like Alberta.

The Pandas and Timberwolves will finish their two-game weekend series Saturday night. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. MT.