The Alberta Pandas looked cool and confident for much of Friday's Canada West women's basketball game at the Tournament Capital Centre.
The TRU WolfPack tried to do the same, but it proved to be nothing more than a facade.
The Pandas beat TRU 77-68 in front of about 200 fans at the TCC. TRU and Alberta are to play again tonight, 5 o'clock, at the TCC.
The WolfPack, which has never beaten the Pandas in five seasons of Canada West basketball, was excellent in the early-going, leading 31-22 after a quarter and 40-25 with 3:40 remaining in the second quarter.
But Alberta, playing its season-opener after going 15-5 in 2009-10, starting chipping away, and the WolfPack began to panic. All of the sudden, the WolfPack's offence dried up - TRU shot 4-for-28 over the second and third quarters - and the defence couldn't get a stop.
After TRU went ahead 40-25, the Pandas scored 30 of the game's next 35 points and cruised from there.
"We just didn't execute - I was proud of their effort, but very, very disappointed in the execution," said WolfPack head coach Scott Reeves, whose team is 2-1. "We had one-foot shots and didn't make (them) . . .
"It was disappointing because I knew we could win this game and we were in this game."
The WolfPack was the picture of confidence and energy in the first quarter, shooting 61 per cent and winning all the battles - it had more rebounds, assists and steals than Alberta, and fewer turnovers.
TRU carried the play early in the second quarter, but once Alberta started coming back, everyone knew the Pandas weren't going to be denied - even the WolfPack, it seemed.
Kendra Asleson, whose older sister, Kelly, plays for the WolfPack volleyball team, put the Pandas ahead with a layup at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter, and one was all but over.
"I don't think we ever had a doubt in our minds that we would win this ball game," said Alberta guard Marisa Haylett, who had 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. "We were ready to play, it just took us a while to heat up."
TRU's Kaitlyn Widsten ended with 16 points, four steals and five rebounds, and Diane Schuetze had 15 points and six rebounds. Tracy Kocs scored 10 points.
Georgia Popovici had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Pandas, and Asleson and Jaime Norum each scored 10 points.
The WolfPack men fell to 0-3 in Canada West play after a 66-57 loss to the Alberta Golden Bears at the TCC on Friday.
Chas Kok led the WolfPack with 23 points, and Justin Riggins had 10 points, all of them in the first half. Daniel Ferguson had 22 points for Alberta, which led 34-32 at the half, and Jordan Baker had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
The WolfPack and Golden Bears are to meet today, 7 p.m., at the TCC.
© Kamloops Daily News