Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – There were no lengthy closed-door meetings for the MacEwan Griffins men's basketball team this time.
Responding to Friday's epic post-game chat with a purpose, the Griffins came out with an intensity on Saturday that the visiting Mount Royal University Cougars failed to match and split the weekend series with an 80-70 triumph in Canada West men's basketball action.
"We did a great job of focusing on what we needed to do and not getting distracted by things we can't control, whether that be officials or the way the way a ball bounces or whether our shots go in or not," said MacEwan head coach Eric Magdanz.
"I think guys did a really good job of just focusing on what we can control and working together. That made a team win for us tonight."
As has been the hallmark of the Griffins' other triumphs this season (they're now 4-10), they have success when multiple players hit double digits.
On Saturday, they leaned on their depth, getting 15 points each from Deonte Doslov-Doctor, Adonis Monfort-Palomino and Ryan Coleman, while Jake Notice had 13 and Ali Raza scored 12. Raza added 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the campaign.
"Teams are built different ways," explained Magdanz. "Obviously, Mount Royal has a pretty phenomenal player in Josh Ross and, for us, we're by committee. We have a lot of guys who are great players, but we need to do it as a team if we want to be successful."
The Cougars (now 7-7 after the defeat) were led as usual by Ross, who bucketed a game-high 19 points, while John Hegwood had 18, Glen Yang scored 14 and Noah Lewis put in 10.
But they dramatically lost the rebounding battle (45-29) and couldn't get their offence clicking on all cylinders, shooting just 36.2 per cent from the field.
"We lacked energy, we lacked teamwork, we lacked effort," said MRU head coach Marc Dobell. "It was a pretty disappointing performance by us."
Dobell noted his team has had a tough time putting the hammer down on teams and they weren't able to do that to MacEwan either, despite winning big – 89-68 – on Friday.
"I wish (the effort was) a one-off, but this seems to be the way we are every weekend," he lamented. "We don't come to play for two games. Certainly, give credit to MacEwan. They played a lot better tonight, but we've got to stop being our own worst enemy."
The teams traded baskets and leads for most of the first half with MacEwan gaining a 34-26 advantage at the break when Notice hit a three-pointer and the Griffins' defence shut down the Cougars.
"Jake, we inserted him into the starting lineup this weekend and he proved to us why we made that switch," said Magdanz. "He was big on the boards, he did a great job defensively and he hit some big shots for us."
The Cougars never really went away, though, staying within a few points during the waxes and wanes of the rest of the contest. They went on a 9-1 run late in the third quarter and tied it at 52.
But the Griffins wrested the advantage back in the fourth quarter and ran it up to as much as a 12-point lead before the 10-point victory.
"I think the big thing for us was just staying committed to our game plan," said Magdanz. "We had a plan on how we were going to attack them and had a plan on how we were going to defend them.
"We didn't let small scenarios throughout the game get us off that. They hit a couple threes in the third quarter and pushed it back, but we stayed consistent to how we were guarding and I think it came through for us in the end."
Both teams head into tough matchups against some of the best teams in Canada West on the Jan. 19-20 weekend. The Griffins will visit UBC (11-3), while MRU returns home to host Alberta (13-1).