In the end, the deciding game of the Canada West men’s basketball semifinal series between the University of Alberta Golden Bears and University of British Columbia Thunderbirds came down to a pair of key possessions, a possible missed call, and a questionable flagrant foul.The Golden Bears fell 84-78 to the Thunderbirds in Game 3 of their best-of-three series at the Saville Community Sports Centre on Sunday.Thunderbirds guard Jadon Cohee finished off his drive to the basket with the game tied 78-78, and Golden Bears guard Tyus Jefferson was unable to complete his at the other end.It proved to be the difference in a tight game, which saw both teams share control of the contest with different players stepping up to hit big shots. With the win the Thunderbirds earned a berth in the national championship tournament. Alberta has an outside chance at an at-large bid into the event.“They were a few notches better on the evening and they earned the win,” said Bears head coach Barnaby Craddock. “It was a close game, it came down to the wire, a couple of bounces differently in that last minute and-a-half, and it’s a different outcome.“Trying to beat a solid team like UBC four out of five times in two weeks was a tall task. They’re, obviously, no slouches and credit to them, they earned it down the stretch.”
The University of Alberta Golden Bears’ Tyus Jefferson (2) battles the UBC Thunderbirds’ Patrick Simon (11) during Game 3 of their Canada West playoff series, in Edmonton Sunday Feb. 24, 2019. David Bloom / Postmedia
Alberta swept UBC in the final weekend of the regular season to earn home-court advantage for the series and the teams split the first two games Friday and Saturday.Both teams were able to maintain a high-level of energy throughout the deciding contest as UBC took early control, but had it wrestled away by Alberta.“Barnaby played for me at one point in his career early on and I love the opportunity to coach against him, I think he’s an outstanding coach,” said Thunderbirds head coach Kevin Hanson. “I love the game within the game of the coaches making adjustment and the players executing, and he did a really outstanding job with his team.”UBC limited Golden Bears leading scorer Brody Clarke to nine points in the contest, while getting big contributions from Cohee and point guard Manroop Clair, who both finished with a game-high 21 points, while forward Grant Shephard had 18.Offensively for the Golden Bears, first-year guard Adam Paige had a team-high 18 points, while Jefferson and guard Dwan Williams each finished with 14.“One guy can’t guard Brody Clarke,” Hanson said. “He’s that tough of a player, he can shoot the ball, he’s got post moves, he’s so strong, and it took a team effort to do it. We gave up a few back-door cuts and things like that, and we had to double him every time he got it and often times, triple-team him when he got the ball.”Clarke dropped 22 on UBC Saturday in a 92-86, Game 2 victory, but got into early foul trouble Sunday and then took a tumble at the offensive end of the floor with just under four minutes to go in the second quarter, forcing him to leave the game to have his right shoulder attended to.Clarke returned in the second half, but was on the wrong end of another collision as Clair plowed into him from behind going after his own rebound off a failed three-point attempt. Clarke left the game again but returned shortly thereafter.
The University of Alberta Golden Bears’ Tyus Jefferson (2) looks to Brody Clarke (14) after Clarke was injured in first half action against the UBC Thunderbirds during Game 3 of their Canada West playoff series, in Edmonton Sunday Feb. 24, 2019. David Bloom / Postmedia
“Brody was battling an injury after he went down and Cole (Knudsen) is limping around on one ankle,” Craddock said. “I’m proud of our guys. They were warriors, not just (Sunday), but all season long. We were sort of looking at (this season) as a little bit of a rebuild after back-to-back trips to nationals.”Despite Clarke’s injury and the smothering defence he faced when on the floor, the Golden Bears were even with the Thunderbirds going into the last minute of the game.Cohee made the go-ahead basket with just over 30 seconds go to, taking the ball down the lane and finishing off his layup.At the other end, looking to tie the game once again, Clarke was unable to get a good look with three defenders draped over him and had to give up the ball, where it eventually came to Jefferson who went to the basket and couldn’t get his contested layup to fall.In the scramble for the rebound, it appeared one of the Thunderbirds had stepped out of bounds with the ball, which went undetected. Then Williams was called for a flagrant foul on Clair, going for the strip in an effort to get the ball back.The call essentially ended the contest as Clair hit both free throws and the Thunderbirds were re-awarded possession.To that point, Williams had made a number of key baskets for the Bears before being whistled on what seemed a harsh flagrant foul.“Dwan is a warrior and he’s a winner,” Craddock said. “He makes his teammates better, he defends every possession with passion and I think we’re all fortunate we get to see someone play basketball with that much passion every possession.”Around Campus … The Pandas women’s volleyball team advanced to the Canada West semifinal, defeating the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in the third and deciding match of their quarter-final series at the Saville Centre on Sunday afternoon. The Pandas won the match 25-17, 21-25, 25-16, 25-14. Kory White led the way for Alberta with 26 kills. The Pandas move on to face Trinity Western in the Canada West semifinal.Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgOn Twitter: @DerekVanDiest