Execution may be the best word to describe the Alberta Golden Bears performance in the Canada West Final Four semifinal Friday afternoon, as their offensive and defensive schemes led them to an 83-70 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies.
They will play the winner of the Manitoba-Calgary semi-final tomorrow night, while clinching a spot in the U Sports Final 8 tournament next weekend.
The two powerhouse programs played well from the start, with the Huskies getting off to a 16-7 lead with about four minutes left in the first quarter.
Alberta stormed back with a 12-2 run, leading by one going into the second.
The next quarter started out as a back-and-forth affair, but after a quiet first quarter, Saskatchewan’s first-team all-star Shane Osayande got hot.
The senior went on a personal 8-0 run, including an emphatic dunk as Saskatchewan would retake the lead at 33-31.
Like they did in the first through, Alberta finished the second strong once again, first with a three from second-team all-star Austin Waddoups, who then sent an alley-oop to 2016 all-star Mamadou Gueye, as the Bears took a 40-35 lead into halftime.
Alberta started the third in a flurry, with first-team all-star Brody Clarke making back-to-back layups and then Waddoups hitting one of his four threes to take a 50-37 lead.
The Golden Bears maintained a double-digit lead throughout the third, led by Gueye and Waddoups, while also getting a solid contribution from Geoff Pippus off the bench.
On defense, Alberta constantly sent double-teams to Osayande, daring Saskatchewan to beat them from the three-point line, which they struggled to knock down.
In the fourth however, Huskies point guard Lawrence Moore hit a three and Clarke would foul out less than two minutes into the quarter with the score just 63-58 for Alberta.
Instead of give up the lead, Alberta went on an 8-0 run and then disaster would strike for Saskatchewan as Osayande would foul out at the 3:39 mark and Alberta would cruise to the 13-point win.
Alberta won every quarter and Gueye was spectacular with 30 points and eight rebounds.
Waddoups had 20, with Clarke and Pippus adding 11 each.
Five Huskies scored in double-figures, led by Moore with 19, but the team shot just 35 per cent for the game, including 9-38 from three-point territory.
At the other end, Alberta shot 46 per cent and were 12-30 from three, while also going 15-22 from the line.
Saskatchewan was just 7-9 from the charity stripe as they will now play in the bronze medal game at 3 p.m. MT Saturday and Alberta will play at 8 p.m.
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