MacEwan Athletics and Pronghorns Athletics
LETHBRIDGE – Well, at least they fixed the rebounding.
But like whack-a-mole, something else reared its ugly head for the MacEwan Griffins on Friday. This time it was their shooting, which went stone cold in a 92-54 loss to the Lethbridge Pronghorns that drops their Canada West men's basketball record to 0-3.
A week after being outrebounded 61-16 in a blowout loss to Alberta, the Griffins were competitive in the boards battle (48-41 for Lethbridge on Friday). But they shot just 21-for-81 from the field, watching the Pronghorns make 10 more shots than them on 14 fewer attempts.
"We just shot the ball terribly," said MacEwan head coach Eric Magdanz. "When you shoot the ball with the percentage we did for an entire game, you're going to be in tough against a team like Lethbridge that can really score the ball.
"I thought we did a great job for the most part of loading our defence and playing well at that and we were better at rebounding," he added. "Even offensively, our ball movement was solid, we created open shots. We just now need to step in with confidence and make them."
Jake Notice and Liban Yousef each had 10 points to pace the Griffins, while Deonte Doslov-Doctor produced nine rebounds from the guard position, to go along with seven points. Rookie post player Alex Jap chipped in seven points and eight rebounds in just 19 minutes of action off the bench.
"Alex was solid for us the entire game where he looked aggressive and he was one of our bright spots scoring, shooting 3-for-4," said Magdanz. "He's somebody we can definitely see a future for and see how he's adapting.
"We have some bright spots moving forward, but development takes time."
It's just that there are going to be some major bumps on the road in the meantime. Like running into a Lethbridge team that was among the best in Canada West last season and looks to be the part again after cruising to victory in their home opener.
Mike Pierzchala, who made a splash in his return to the team after sitting out last season, had a game-high 23 points for the Pronghorns, while Colton Gibb – brother of Griffins women's basketball player Hannah Gibb – finished with 18 points after scoring 10 in the opening quarter. Reigning Canada West third-team all-star Zac Overwater chipped in 15 points, while guard Kyle Peterson had 11 assists.
Out of the gate, Lethbridge opened on a 7-0 run and held leads of 21-15 after the first and 44-16 at the half. Throughout the opening half, the Pronghorns were effective at the offensive end, hitting on 48.5 per cent from the floor.
Conversely, the Griffins had a tough shooting half, making only 10 of 42 field goals for a cool 23.8 per cent, but 10 offensive rebounds in the half led to some quality extra looks that would just not fall for the Griffins.
Continuing to pour it on offensively, Pierzchala hit three consecutive long balls to start the second half, pushing the lead to 25 points.
In the final two quarters, Lethbridge outscored MacEwan 20-15 and 28-13, holding a 23-point lead at the end of the third quarter and cruising to a 38-point margin at the final buzzer.
Shots just wouldn't fall for the Griffins and they couldn't keep pace as a result.
"It's being confident and being willing to finish plays," said Magdanz. "And when the ball gets passed into your hands, you know where you can be effective. For us, that's a learning curve with a young team. I'm really happy with the growth we've had since last week, but we've got a ways to go."
The teams will meet again on Saturday (7 p.m., Canada West TV).