by Paul Cartledge, Alberta Sports Information
EDMONTON – Five different Pandas netted double-digit points in a dominant team effort for the No.8 University of Alberta Pandas women’s basketball team, narrowly missing the century mark in a 99-60 decision over the Victoria Vikes, Saturday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
For the second-straight night, senior guard Megan Wickstrom led her team on the scoreboard with 19 points, while team-leading scorer Jessilyn Fairbanks recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists, fourth-year guard Maddie Rogers just missing out on the same success, adding eight assists to 15 points. Senior guard Renee Byrne came off the bench to notch 14 points in the win, freshman forward Brooklyn Legault making it a quintet to crack double digits with 10.
Riding a three-game winning streak, the nationally ranked Pandas started slowly in tonight’s matchup, Victoria jumping to a 10-4 lead only three minutes into the first quarter.
Yet Wickstrom’s first of three long balls in the game started to sway the momentum, aided by a few steals that led to fast-break buckets by Rogers.
The Vikes still maintained a lead for most of the opening quarter, however, before a Jenna Krug three-pointer attempt circled the rim three times before falling out, allowing the Pandas to come down the court and have Legault drain a baseline deuce to knot the score at 17.
The North Vancouver, B.C. native drained another bucket 30 seconds later, the Pandas never looking back after that, beginning the second quarter with a 6-0 run that ended with another Wickstrom trey to extend the lead to 10.
Alberta kept shooting at more than 45% as the first half wore on, but the Vikes hit some snags, missing a number of shots and falling below 30% in the quarter, making it harder to catch up to a Pandas squad that was on fire, Fairbanks finding a stealthy Byrne behind the Victoria defence for a jumper off the glass.
Unfortunately for the visitors, things got worse in the third quarter, the Vikes going ice cold with only two of 13 shots succeeding in the field, saved somewhat by triumph at the charity stripe with a perfect 8-for-8, but still no match for the Alberta offence.
A scintillating 72% clip came off the hands of last year’s Canada West bronze medalists, seemingly everyone chipping in a bucket or two for a full 30 points by the home team, earning a commanding 25-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
Yet the Pandas didn’t let up, starting with a 12-0 run to begin the quarter and still shooting at higher than 68% to keep adding to the scoreboard, a nifty round of ball movement highlighting a Legault jumper to break 90 points before a Megan Tywoniuk jumper off the baseline, just inside the three-point line, finished Alberta’s scoring just shy of triple digits.
Alberta, now 10-1 on the season, head to Brandon next weekend to take on the Bobcats, while Victoria will also head east to face the Winnipeg Wesmen.
SCORING BY QUARTER
ALB: 23-21-30-25 : 99
UVIC: 19-18-12-11 : 60
ALB: Megan Wickstrom (19), Maddie Rogers (15), Renee Byrne (9)
UVIC: Jenna Bugiardini (16), Nicole Karstein (11), Jenna Krug (9), Kristy Gallagher (9)