By Woodard, Dale on February 24, 2020.
The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s basketball team threw everything they had at their 19-1 opponent.
But in the end that team with the impressive record prevailed as the Pronghorns fell short 92-81 to the Alberta Golden Bears in the winner-take-all Canada West quarter-finals Saturday afternoon in Edmonton.
The Canada West top-seeded Golden Bears jumped out to a 28-17 lead after the first quarter. The Horns outscored Alberta 21-18 in the second quarter to trail 46-38 at the half, but Alberta was able to keep the distance between the two teams the rest of the way on their way to the win.
“The boys fought hard all game,” said Pronghorns head coach James McKinnon. “It was a battle, but I like the way the boys went about it. They dug deep and we tried to get out of it, but unfortunately we couldn’t prevail.
“The guarded a little bit more physically than we’re used to, so that kind of pushed us out of our offence a little more than normal. Apart from that. It was a pretty exceptional job from all around.”
Colton Gibb and Jeff Rodehutskors each had 16 points for the Pronghorns Saturday afternoon, while Scott Mazutinec added 13. Chad Oviatt also hit double digits with 12 points.
Gibb also hauled in nine rebounds and Brett Warren had seven.
Playing his final game with the Pronghorns, Kyle Peterson once again led in assists with six. He also had eight points.
Fellow graduating veteran Keanu Funa had six points and five assists.
It was the fourth straight year the two teams met in the post-season.
The Pronghorns advanced to the quarter-final with a 98-86 win over the Regina Cougars the prior weekend at in the play-in game at the 1st Choice Savings Centre and headed to Edmonton on a seven-game winning streak.
“I’m proud of the boys,” said McKinnon. “That’s my biggest thing, that I’m proud of them. To see the enjoyment on their faces while playing the game is a big thing and hopefully I succeeded with that. They’re just good kids and I wish them nothing but the best moving forward.”
In the semifinal Sunday in Edmonton, the Golden Bears defeated the Manitoba Bisons 91-85.
They will face the UBC Thunderbirds in the Canada West gold medal game Saturday in Edmonton at 8 p.m.
The Thunderbirds beat the Saskatchewan Huskies 88-77 in the quarter-final Friday in Calgary and beat the Calgary Dinos 81-72 in the other semifinal Saturday night in Calgary.
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