Jason Hills, For MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – The art of three-point shooting some nights in the game of basketball can be masterful. It can single-handedly win a game for you. Other nights, it can be nothing more than a dud, as the MacEwan Griffins found against the University of Fraser Valley Cascades on Friday night.
It was one of their best efforts of the Canada West season, but their dreadful three-point shooting hurt them immensely in a 94-79 loss Friday night at the David Atkinson gymnasium.
MacEwan is left searching for their first win of the season, falling to 0-7, while UFV improves to 3-4.
"At the end of the day, when you look at the stats tonight, we just didn't hit shots tonight from long range," said Griffins head coach Eric Magdanz.
"We did a great job moving the ball and creating offence, but the difference in the game was us shooting 3-of-27 from three, and them shooting 36%. If we make three of four more threes, it's an entirely different game."
Jake Notice led the Griffins with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists, and Abdullah Shittu recorded 11 points, four rebounds and two assists. The second-year small forward from Harry Ainlay continued to keep pace at breaking the Canada West record with a three-block effort that brings his conference-leading total to 19.
Mark Johnson and Parm Bains led the Cascades with 23 points each, while Johnson had 10 rebounds and Bains had six boards and six assists in the victory.
"Without Parm and Mark, I don't think we win this game tonight without their offensive contributions," said Cascades head coach Adam Friesen.
"We had the lead the whole way, but the effort and the mental concentration wasn't there for us in terms of silly fouls and lack of transition defence. We're going to have to have a really good talk about it going into tomorrow.
"The things we can control were poorly done tonight, but I will take responsibility of that tonight and we'll be better tomorrow."
UFV came out flying from the opening tip and took control of the game, leading 30-20 after the first quarter. They increased their lead with another strong quarter to finish the first half with a 55-40 lead, but the Griffins found a way to get back into the contest with a big run to start the third quarter.
They outscored the Cascades 10-0 to start the second half after Dustin Gatzki made a nice play at the rim to follow up off a missed three attempt and cut UFV's deficit to 55-50.
But just a few minutes later, Bains made a nice coast-to-coast effort off a couple MacEwan misses and their lead ballooned back up to 11 points (63-52) after Daniel Adediran grabbed his own rebound and made the lay-up.
"I'm proud of effort and our desire to compete," said Magdanz. "We've struggled to put a full game together and we did that tonight, we just didn't shoot the ball well enough.
"Basketball is really evolving where spacing the floor is really important. (UFV) challenged us to hit shots tonight and we didn't. The law of averages will even out and one of these nights it's all going to come together for us."
MacEwan struggled from beyond the arc, but they had a lot of success in the paint. Fourteen of Notice's 20 points were from free throws and the Griffins hit 26 of 31 from the charity stripe, which really kept the game close.
After they cut UFV's lead to eight, it took another big run from the Cascades to gain some breathing room in the fourth quarter.
"We're getting to the free throw line. We're challenging the defence, and that's creating shots, we just have to start making more shots," said Magdanz.
"We've been stressing to get deeper offensively and really challenging their defence. Fraser Valley does a great job of giving you shots, but they're just OK shots, and you have to find ways to really dig deep and find ways to create better shots for us.
"We talked all week about creating opportunities to get great shots and not settling for OK shots, and we did that tonight, we just didn't do a great job shooting the ball."
MacEwan and UFV will continue their two-game weekend series Saturday night. Tip-off is 7 p.m. in the David Atkinson Gym.