MacEwan Athletics and Alberta Athletics
EDMONTON – They've seen how high the bar is.
The young, improving MacEwan Griffins men's basketball team saw firsthand on Saturday night what happens when a U SPORTS top-10 team makes adjustments in the rematch.
The No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears raised their play from the first meeting between the teams on Thursday night and put away a decisive 91-61 win at the Saville Centre.
Someday, the Griffins hope that will be a level they can get to, too.
"We saw tonight why they're No. 3 in the country," said MacEwan head coach Eric Magdanz. "They came in with a game plan and executed it very well, and shot the ball a little better tonight, as well.
"It's a learning night and it's a benchmark night for us. We hope to be top 10 in the country someday. We saw tonight what that looks like."
The win is the 17th of the season for the Golden Bears, who improve their Canada West-best record to 17-1. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the loss officially ends MacEwan's long odds at qualifying for the post-season, as their record falls to 4-14 in conference play.
Fourth-year Alberta guard Austin Waddoups finished with a game-high 18 points, with all of them coming off the three pointer (6/10 from deep). Fifth-year Bear Lyndon Annetts, and third-year Brody Clarke also had strong performances in the final home conference game for Alberta, finishing with double-doubles. Clarke was very efficient, finishing 5/8 shooting with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Annetts added 13 points on 10 rebounds.
MacEwan, meanwhile, struggled mightily against the top-ranked Bears defence, finishing with a 28% shooting mark (20/71), including making just 10 of their 30 three-point shots. No Griffins player hit double digits, but MacEwan did get a nice spread of scoring – nine points from Deonte Doslov-Doctor and Liban Yousef, and eight each from Harrison Lane (to go with eight rebounds), Atlas St. Paul-Butler, Adonis Monfort-Palomino and Lincoln Anderson. St. Paul-Butler added three blocks.
"Atlas St. Paul Butler was very aggressive and played in a number of different positions for us tonight," said Magdanz. "And Harrison Lane battled very hard against a very good player in Brody Clarke and maybe came up with his highest point total of this season, as well as his highest rebound total of the season.
"Obviously, we wish for a better result, but there's a ton of positives to take away from this."
In an incredibly similar start to the series opener on Thursday, both teams struggled finding their offensive rhythm in the first quarter. MacEwan hit just on just 20% of their shots, while Alberta was only slightly better at 32%. The Bears, thanks to a 7-2 run late, took a slim 17-15 lead into the second quarter.
Alberta completely turned the game around in the second, dominating on the glass, and outscoring MacEwan 23-10. The Griffins' offensive struggles continued, and plagued them throughout the second and third quarters.
"Credit to U of A. They clamped down defensively and made it difficult for us," said Magdanz. "On the positive side, we had a lot of players with eight or nine points – we had contributions from a number of players.
Another impressive quarter from Alberta in the third (28-14) gave them a commanding lead heading into the fourth. While relatively consistent from inside the three-point line all night, arguably the biggest transformation was the Bears shooting from beyond the arc. Alberta began the game 2/10 from three, finishing 15/37 (40.5%) from deep.
MacEwan, needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, came out in the fourth quarter red hot, opening on a 12-0 run. Their insane start, however, couldn't be maintained, as Alberta slowly worked their way back to even, before cruising to a 30-point win.
With first place on the line for Alberta, they'll finish their conference series next weekend with a road series against the Lethbridge Pronghorns. MacEwan will finish their Canada West campaign with a home series against the Trinity Western Spartans.