Lethbridge – With playoff positioning on the line, the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies rallied in the second half to edge out the Lethbridge Pronghorns 89-83 in the first of a two game set.
The win improves the Huskies to 7-4 on the season and move within one game of the Pronghorns, who fall to 8-5. The Huskies have two games in hand on the 'Horns.
Elliott Sentance led all scorers with 29 points in a losing cause for the Pronghorns. He also grabbed eight rebounds and collected five assists. Dejon Burdeaux was the only other Pronghorn to hit for double digits with 14 points and continued his strong play adding seven rebounds, five steals and four assists. Matt Forbes hit the first shot of the game and was the offensive catalyst for the Huskies, scoring a team high 24 points and converted the double-double with 10 boards. Lawrence Moore came off the bench to contribute 21 points, while Shane Osayande chipped in with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Forbes hit a three to open the game and the 'Horns came out cold, allowing the visitors to build a 10 point lead as the game reached the midpoint of the opening quarter, with a 14-4 start. Pronghorn newcomer Mahmoud Sesay hit the last shot of the quarter to cut the Huskie lead to 20-11.
In the quarter, the 'Horns hit only 27.8% and while the Huskies were only slightly better at 35.3%, six made free throws allowed the Huskies to take the early lead.
After struggling in the opening quarter, the Pronghorn found their stroke in the second quarter, tying the game at 27 before the five minute mark and with a 26-15 quarter, took a 37-35 lead into halftime. The Pronghorns were 10 for 19 in the second, while the Huskies were 6 for 16 for 36.5%.
While the first two quarters were polar opposites, the third solved little, setting up a close and highly contested fourth quarter. Seven straight points to open the third put the 'Horns in a good spot at home but after a quiet opening 20 minutes, Osayande scored six straight points of his own to turn the tide in the Huskies favor. The Huskies, on the strength of a 21-20 third quarter only trailed by one heading into the final frame.
Two Osayande free throws to open the final quarter gave the Huskies their first lead of the second half, one they wouldn't relinquish. With just over a minute to play, the Huskies held a 12 point lead but in a valiant attempt for a late comeback Will Hickey hit a three with 30 seconds to play to cut the lead back to a two possession game but the Huskies hit four of six free throws down the stretch to seal to the victory.
Trips to the charity stripe made all the difference in this game. The Huskies were 22 of 33 from the free throw line as the 'Horns were in foul trouble for much of the night. The 'Horns only got to the line 17 times, making 11.
The Huskies shot 45.5% on the night compared to the 'Horns 42.1%, while turnovers were even at 15 and the Huskies out rebounded the Pronghorns 41-39.
The Pronghorns and Huskies will be back at it tomorrow night, tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm and the game will be streamed live on www.canadawest.tv, home to all Canada West webcasts.