Lethbridge - Riding a three-game win streak the Lethbridge Pronghorns could not overcome a blistering start by the defending national champion Saskatchewan Huskies as they dropped the first game of a two-game series 75-63 at home Friday night.
The loss drops the 'Horns record to 4-9 on the season, while the Huskies have now won four in a row and improve to 7-4.
Third-year forward Katie Hankins got the Pronghorns going with a pair of jumpers to get the home side up by one early but the Huskies responded with a 14-0 run midway through the opening quarter on their way to a 30-13 lead after one.
Sophomore guard Megan Ahlstrom did most of the damage in the first quarter and led the Huskies with nine points while Hankins led the 'Horns with four points. The defending champions were hot from the field in the opening frame, shooting 12 of 18, while the Pronghorns started cold going 5 for 15 and turning the ball over four times.
The Pronghorns battled back in the second quarter on the strength of fourth-year guard Zoe Dahl's 10 points, including a pair from behind the arc, and Lethbridge won the quarter 20-17 to chip away at the Huskies' lead. Saskatchewan led 47-33 at the break.
Ahlstrom added a pair of threes in the second quarter to lead all scorers with 15 points at the half, but the rest of the Huskies' shooters lost their touch, hitting on just 6 of 20 from the field in the second quarter.
Play was even in the third quarter as the Huskies were able to maintain their 14-point lead over the Pronghorns. Fourth-year forward Megan Lindquist picked up the offensive slack for the visitors, adding seven points in the quarter to pace the Huskies.
Consecutive three-pointers by Jessica Bachynski and Danielle Fritzke brought the home crowd to life and drew the 'Horns to within eight points of the Huskies early in the fourth quarter. But Sabine Dukate answered right back for the visitors, drilling her third three-pointer of the night to regain the Huskies' double-digit lead, one which they would never relinquish as they cruised the rest of the way to a 12-point win.
The Huskies were led by Ahlstrom, who scored a game-high 22 points, while Lindquist chipped-in with a solid effort, scoring 18 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Saskatchewan won the team rebounding battle 53-37, including 24 on the offensive glass.
Lethbridge shot 22-64 in the game (34.4%) and 14-17 from the free-throw line. Zoe Dahl was the lone Pronghorn to reach double-digits, pouring in 20 points on an efficient 7-13 from the field. Bachynski, who led the conference in rebounding coming into the weekend, grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in the loss.
The Pronghorns will look to get back into the win column and even up the series vs. Saskatchewan Saturday night at the 1st Choice Savings Centre. Tip-off is set for 5:00pm and the game will be webcast on CanadaWest.tv, home of all Canada West action.