Red Deer, AB - In the first game of 2019, the RDC Queens battled the defending Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Women's Basketball champions, the St. Mary's University Lightning, to the end, but were edged 66-62 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
In a close opening quarter, Harneet Sidhu propelled the RDC Queens ahead 7-4 with a pair of successful free throws. For the Lightning, Hannah Helton had a strong first quarter, connecting from both the outside and the free-throw line. The Queens and Lightning were deadlocked 15-15 after ten minutes.
Only a trio of points separated the two squads in the second. Helton provided the Lightning with an early 19-18 edge but RDC pushed back. Garcia-Bernal sank a bucket while being fouled, and capped off the three point play from the line. RDC's Mallory Uskiw drained the final basket of the quarter and the Queens led by three (34-31) at the half.
Early in the third, Sydney Deighton of St. Mary's University was successful from behind the three-point arc which inspired her side for 19 points. In the quarter, the Queens received contributions from Jessie Handley, Harneet Sidhu and Lauren Cardinal, adding 12 points to their total. After the quarter, the Lightning held a four point margin (50-46).
The St. Mary's University Lightning started connecting from the outside and went up by nine (63-54) but the Red Deer College Queens eventually reduced the gap. Harneet Sidhu brought RDC within three (60-63). In an exciting finish, the Lightning finalized a 66-62 win.
Sandra Garcia-Bernal received the Queens Player-of-the-Game award, totaling 16 rebounds, 11 points, 5 steals and 1 assist. Chayle Clark was chosen for the Lightning, finishing with 22 rebounds, 6 points, 1 steal and 1 assist.
Jessie Handley added 14 points for the Queens.
Hannah Helton recorded 17 points and Sydney Deighton chipped in with 15 for the Lightning.
In a rematch, the St. Mary's University Lightning will host the RDC Queens in Calgary on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.