Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – With the final seconds of a university career built on blood, sweat and tears ticking down, Ryan Coleman bashed out a hard-earned offensive rebound and jammed it home off the glass.
The appreciative and raucous Senior Night crowd rained down chants of 'Cole-train' after the bucket with 48 seconds left in overtime sealed a 107-101 come-from-behind win for the MacEwan Griffins over the Trinity Western Spartans in the Canada West men's basketball season finale for both teams.
If there was one shot that provided the epitome of the gritty graduating senior's impact on the MacEwan Griffins, that was it. His final one.
"It's probably the perfect way for him to end his career – a really tough rebound, him battling inside and then getting the opportunity to score to finish it off," said MacEwan head coach Eric Magdanz, who earlier in the night feted Coleman in a Senior Night ceremony. "That's really who he is and what he's done his entire career. It's a perfect capper on top of it."
Coleman led the Griffins with 21 points and seven rebounds in a workhorse 40 minutes on the floor that finally ended when he was subbed out to a standing ovation with 29 seconds remaining.
"It really felt nice," he said of a special night that included a basket he'll never forget. "It defines what I am as a player and defines what I've done for the past five years. To be able to continuously give the same energy with a consistent basis, to bring the same intensity all the time – that bucket just defined everything. It just shows the hustle and that I'll do anything to get us a win."
The Griffins fed off the electric energy in the air for Coleman's swan song and fought back from an eight-point deficit late in the third quarter, tying the contest on two Adonis Monfort-Palomino free throws with six seconds left.
Once the game got to OT tied 92-92, MacEwan just took over, specifically leading scorer Ali Raza, who scored nine of his 19 points in the extra frame.
"We really came in and I think we really rallied around it being Ryan's final game," said Magdanz. "Guys drew some energy off of that. When you see Ryan play that hard, all you really want to do is follow his leadership."
MacEwan was somehow able to fight off one of the hottest-shooting games by anyone in Canada West this season as fourth-year TWU guard Vartan Tanielian scored 38 points, shooting 13 of 22 from the field and draining 6-of-10 three-point attempts. He added four rebounds, five assists and two steals.
"I'm proud of Vartan," said Spartans head coach Aaron Muhic. "He's come a long way. He's really been patient all year with his shot selection. I'm very happy he was able to end the season that way."
Muhic is less pleased with the end of the contest when the Spartans couldn't keep the lead they held, albeit a small one, for much of the contest.
"We just made some mental mistakes," he said. "I thought we defended at the end to put it into overtime and once we got into overtime, we just didn't move the ball good enough, didn't share it good enough, didn't get good enough shots.
"MacEwan played really good defence. They were contesting everything. That's it. That's the ball game."
Pogos Trunyan added 20 points and seven rebounds for the Spartans, making two three-pointers to set a new TWU school record with 67 this season.
"He's a heck of a shooter. He really is," said Muhic. "He knows he's a good shooter and he went after the record. Sometimes records don't mean much when your team isn't playing good. I thought he forced things. It would have been nice if he could have ended it a little better as far as with the team, but that's the way it goes."
Deonte Doslov-Doctor had a double-double for the Griffins with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while Liban Yousef, really logging important minutes down the stretch, had 13 points and six boards off the bench. Lincoln Anderson chipped in 10 points.
The win means the Griffins will finish the season at 5-15 – not a playoff record, but at least they head into the off-season with a winning taste in their mouths.
"It's the season of growth and we really did see that growth over the course of the year," said Magdanz. "We have a ways to go. This off-season is going to be an opportunity for us to get ourselves ready. We know what to expect from Canada West now and it's up to us to make sure we get ourselves there."
TWU will also miss the post-season after finishing at 3-17. Two of their wins came on the final two weekends.
"It was an interesting season," said Muhic. "I really like our team. We have good guys. It's always fun to work with good guys. We all wanted to win more games, but I think that will come with experience.
"I think our record wasn't great, but as far as improvement, I thought we really improved, especially these last few weeks. We're a lot better than we have been. So, I'm proud of the guys for that."