EDMONTON – It was a close match between two nationally-ranked squads in the first half, but a strong third quarter by the still undefeated and No.6 University of Saskatchewan Huskies sealed the win, taking an 85-61 decision over the No.7 University of Alberta Pandas, Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Canada West rebound leader Elle Hendershot led her team on the scoresheet with 12 points and six rebounds, but also four turnovers. Guards Emma Kary (sophomore) and Jenna Harpe (rookie) chipped in nine points apiece, the Pandas now having only one victory in three games at home so far this season.
Third-year guard Sabine Dukate netted a game-high 22 points, including five three-balls, to go along with four boards and four assists. Sophomore guard Summer Masikewich added 18 points while third-year guard Megan Ahlstrom also cracked double digits with 11.
The Huskies came out of the gate quick with two buckets in the first minute, but the Pandas responded with an 8-2 run to claim the lead.
The two teams then fought back and forth on the scoreboard, even though Alberta was struggling beyond the arc, all six attempts unable to find the net.
Tied at 16 after the opening quarter, Saskatchewan started again with a short run, this time a five-point streak that slowly expanded into a nine-point lead as the second quarter went on.
Catalyzing the Panda offence, Hendershot got two of the last three baskets to get her team back within one, sophomore point guard Libby Epoch replying with a layup off the glass before Hendershot sadly continued Alberta's long-distance troubles with an unsuccessful trey attempt at the top of the arc, allowing the Huskies to head into the locker room up by three points.
Early in the third quarter, a couple of Ahlstrom free throws sparked an 11-2 run by the road team to claim a 14-point lead, the Huskies firing at 58% in the frame and also outrebounding their hosts 11-4.
Granted, Alberta was still shooting well at a 42% clip, but Saskatchewan, the conference leader in field goal percentage after Friday's action, was simply shooting better.
Harpe managed to get the deficit under double digits with back-to-back threes early in the fourth quarter, but Masikewich put up 11 points as part of an 18-2 run to kill any hope of a comeback by the home team.
Game two of the weekend series between the 5-2 Pandas and 7-0 Huskies starts at 5:00 p.m. MT on Saturday.