Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – The bookends weren't so bad for the MacEwan Griffins as they were only 14 combined points worse than the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies in the first and fourth quarters.
The middle of the sandwich, however …
It was clearly of the knuckle-sandwich variety.
The Saskatchewan Huskies scored a knockout during the meat of the game, outscoring MacEwan 58-16 in the second and third quarters combined, en route to a breezy 95-39 victory in Canada West women's basketball action on Friday night.
Along the way, the No. 6-ranked team in U Sports forced 30 turnovers, shot 12-for-24 from the three-point line and put four shooters in double digits, not including leading scorer Summer Masikewich.
In improving to 10-1 on the season, Saskatchewan exhibited few, if any, weaknesses and just might have been the strongest team the Griffins have faced this season.
"They have five players on the floor that can hurt you at any time," said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams, whose team double-teamed Canadian National Junior team member Masikewich only to get killed by others. "You try to take away one threat and they capitalize and find the next. It's tough because you have to guard all five players on the floor and pick your poison of where you want to get beat.
"You hope to contest and make them take tough shots and I don't think we did a great job of that tonight. They found kick outs and extra passes and we struggled to rotate and get there in time. They shot 12 for 24 from the three-point line. That's tough."
Sabine Dukate had three of those, en route to 15 points, while Megan Lindquist (15 points), Libby Epoch (12 points) and Maya Olynyk (six points) each drained two treys. Megan Ahlstrom (12 points) was among three others who hit from behind the arc. Epoch and Dukate had five steals each.
Masikewich, who led the Huskies with 16.4 points a game coming into the contest, was held to just eight points, but it didn't matter.
"We're really trying to work at sharing the ball and just have multiple weapons out there," said Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis. "I thought we did a better job of moving it, not sticking in people's hands too long and then working on our transition. Some of those things kind of came together for us tonight.
"Defensively, I thought we had good effort at the defensive end and caused a lot of turnovers."
As the Griffins drove the lane, they consistently ran into a brick wall in the middle of the court – any number of Saskatchewan's seven players who are 6-foot or taller got a hand on passes or just took the space away.
Perhaps the Huskies watched tape of how MacEwan upset No. 1-ranked U SPORTS team Regina last season. They took nothing for granted on the defensive end of the ball, never letting up in holding the Griffins to 25.6 per cent shooting in the contest, including a 14.3 per cent stretch in the third quarter.
"We have some length and we have some mobile length and that certainly impacts the game. We knew MacEwan was going to play hard," said Thomaidis. "They've kept it very close with a lot of very good teams, so we certainly respect them and what they're able to do. They have some perimeter players who can cause you some problems when they get into the paint, so we (just wanted) to keep them contained and not let them get to the rim."
Paige Knull had the most success for the Griffins, putting up 15 points, while Kerilynn MacLennan chipped in nine. Kayla Ivicak, averaging 15.2 points per game coming in, was held to just four and was tagged for a game-high six turnovers.
If there was a positive for MacEwan to draw upon, it was late in the game. With her team trailing by 50 and Knull fouled out, Adams put an all-rookie lineup on the floor. Darian Mahmi, Hannah Gibb, Madison Chamberlin, Mackenzie Farmer and Shannon Majeau finished the game and admirably put together MacEwan's most intense stretch of the contest.
"That's what I love about this group is they aren't afraid to battle, they aren't afraid to fight every night," said Adams. "When you're down by 50 … there's no fear of making mistakes. It becomes an opportunity for growth. We need those kids down the road, so let's get better."
MacEwan falls to 3-8 with the defeat. The teams will meet again on Saturday (5 p.m., Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV).