MacEwan Athletics and Regina Athletics
REGINA – Mounting turnovers derailed the MacEwan Griffins' chances early in Friday's 86-58 loss to the University of Regina Cougars.
"We actually got off to a good start," said MacEwan head coach Eric Magdanz, whose team falls to 0-11 on the Canada West men's basketball campaign with the result. "Their pressure disrupted us and caused us to have some turnovers in the first half, which let them get out and running.
"Their transition offence was difficult for us to control, but most of that was based off us having turnovers."
It wasn't even just the number of them (28 for those counting at home), but how and when they happened that were so deflating for the Griffins, who fell behind by eight after one quarter, 19 at the half and 29 after three quarters before settling on the 28-point defeat.
"Some of those turnovers were very disappointing for us – they were turnovers in transition that could have easily led to us scoring," said MacEwan head coach Eric Magdanz. "Then they flipped back over to them and it becomes a four-point swing and a momentum change in the game.
"If we can clean some of those things up, I think it could really alter the game tomorrow."
Regina improves to 6-3 on the season with the sixth win of their past seven games. They were led on the night by Samuel Hillis, who piled up 18 points and 10 rebounds to notch his fifth double-double in the last six games.
Kameron Vales hit all three of his three-point attempts and scored 13 points in 15 minutes off the bench for Regina, while Nick Barnard added 12 points. Greishe Clerjuste and Carter Millar both ended up with nine points.
Regina's win comes despite MacEwan owning a 54-41 rebounding advantage and a 22-10 edge in second-chance points. Ball security issues killed the Griffins, as the Cougars turned 28 MacEwan turnovers into 35 points compared to just 12 points scored off turnovers for the visitors.
Dustin Gatzki and Abdullah Shittu both finished with double-doubles for MacEwan, which falls to 0-11 with the loss. Gatzki had a game-high 20 points and added 10 rebounds, while Shittu had 10 points and 11 boards.
"I'm really impressed with Dustin Gatzki," said Magdanz. "We were down at half and he changed his mindset and became very aggressive. He went out and scored 15 points in the third quarter. He just attacked and got to the rim, he took open shots when they were available to him.
"Abdullah's starting to figure out how to use his length and athleticism to make an impact in a lot of different places on the court," he continued. "Today wasn't necessarily his strongest performance because we have high expectations for him, but it's an encouraging sign because he's starting to figure it out. That's going to pay long-term dividends for our team.
"Dustin's only a third year and Abdullah's only a second year. We do have a bright future."
The two teams will meet again on Saturday night (7 p.m. MT, Canada West TV). It's MacEwan's last chance of the first semester to get their first win of the season. To do that, they must improve their ball security.
"I think we have to go back to the film and try to figure out how we're going to reduce our turnovers," said Magdanz. "If we reduce our turnovers, that's going to reduce their transition opportunities and put us in a better spot to be successful defensively."