MacEwan Athletics and MRU Athletics
CALGARY – Two ugly and unwelcome stats tell the tale of the tape in MacEwan's 87-79 defeat to the Mount Royal University Cougars on Friday night.
The Griffins turned the ball over 26 times and shot less than 50 per cent from the free throw line (13-for-27).
"We defended pretty well," said MacEwan head coach Eric Magdanz. "This game came down to our offence. If you look at our stats, we had 26 turnovers and 17 of those were in the first half. It was a huge challenge for us.
"A lot of our turnovers led to them getting some easy scores, so if we can do a better job controlling the ball (we'll have a better chance)."
With the result, MacEwan (0-9) remains winless on the Canada West men's basketball season, while MRU improves to 5-4.
The Griffins got 20 points from Jake Notice, who now has at least 20 in four-straight games and is up to 16.8 points per game for the season. He added six rebounds and a couple of steals in 39 minutes on the court.
MacEwan's secondary scoring was strong, too: Atlas St. Paul Butler had 14 points and seven rebounds on 3-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc and Liban Yousef bucketed 13, grabbed six boards and had a couple steals. Both Abdullah Shittu (12 points and six rebounds) and Dustin Gatzki (11 points and seven boards) hit double digits.
LJ Hegwood led MRU's offensive efforts with 21 points. Patrick Vandervelden had a big second half and came away with a double-double. He scored 15 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and make his presence felt on the defensive end with five blocks and three steals. Glen Yang was also important to the Cougars' efforts on the night. He ended up with 11 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The Cougars' defence stood out in the first quarter. They held the Griffins to 10 points on 25 per cent shooting and used their defensive pressure to force six turnovers that helped them get out and run.
"Our energy was just low from the start and low energy led to turnovers," said Magdanz. "I think that it manifested itself into other unforced errors.
"But we'll look to bounce back tomorrow night."
After the Griffins found some success coming into the second quarter and cut their deficit to five, the Cougars responded with an 11-4 run that helped them build a double-digit lead.
The Cougars' lead stood at 12 after the first 20 minutes, as they led from wire to wire.
MRU came out of the halftime break and kept their foot on the gas. They started on a 13-1 run, helping them grow their lead to more than 20, taking control of the game.
The Griffins responded by going to a press and trying to force the Cougars into some turnovers. Their defence helped them slow down the MRU offence as they started cutting into the lead.
When the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter, MacEwan had cut their deficit to 13, giving themselves a chance to comeback in the final 10 minutes.
The Griffins started the fourth on a 7-2 run, cutting the Cougars' lead to single-digits with seven minutes remaining.
The two teams spent the rest of the trading baskets, the Griffins couldn't cut the Cougars' lead below six as each of their scores was answered by an MRU bucket on the other end.
Despite a final minute push from the Griffins, MRU was able to hold on for their fifth win of the season. The Cougars' defence of their lead down the stretch was highlighted by a huge slam in transition by Hegwood.
Game 2 of the series will tip-off Saturday (6 p.m., Canada West TV).