Second-quarter lapse, turnovers cost Griffins in 81-58 season-opening defeat to Alberta

MacKenzie Farmer, seen going against Alberta in a game last season, led the Griffins with 11 points in a 81-58 defeat on Thursday night (Chris Piggott photo).
MacKenzie Farmer, seen going against Alberta in a game last season, led the Griffins with 11 points in a 81-58 defeat on Thursday night (Chris Piggott photo).

MacEwan Athletics and Alberta Athletics

EDMONTON – Plagued by turnovers and a lapse that allowed their opponent to score 35 second-quarter points, the MacEwan Griffins fell 81-58 in a visit to the Alberta Pandas in the Canada West women's basketball season opener for both teams on Thursday night at the Saville Centre.

The rest of the game they played their cross-town rivals pretty even – 13-13 in the first, 17-16 for MacEwan in the third and 17-14 for Alberta in the fourth.

But the one that got away cost them the game.

"That 20 points right there was really the difference in the game," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams, whose team was outscored 35-14 in the second quarter. "They kind of just got hot and hit some shots. We turned the ball over at some inopportune times and they capitalized. We just got ourselves in too deep to be able to dig out of."

The Pandas shot 15-for-18 from the field in netting those 35, which is nearly as hot as a team can get.

Guard Vanessa Wild led Alberta with 24 points, while Emma Kary had 17 points and nine rebounds and Jenna Harpe added 17 off five three-pointers for the Pandas. 

"We really played with a lot of tempo and speed," said Wild. "We really pressured their guards and created a lot of turnovers. We really worked hard to move the ball with some pace tonight." 

MacEwan was led by 11 points from Mackenzie Farmer, their only player who finished with double-digit points. The Griffins were plagued by turnovers, finishing the game with 28, compared to just 13 for Alberta. The Pandas also outscored the Griffins 32-3 in points off turnovers. 

MacEwan coughed the ball up 11 times in the second quarter, while shooting just 5-for-15 from the floor. 

The mistakes just seemed to compound for the Griffins, which is something Adam's young team can certainly learn from.

"We thought we were competitive for points in time and there's things that we did that were successful," said Adams. "We had players make some plays at times, but it just goes to show that you can't take moments off. Because as soon as you don't follow the scout, as soon as you make one wrong decision or don't communicate with your teammates, they capitalize on it and errors compound.

"It's error after error after error, and all of a sudden what was a tie game at the end of the first quarter you blink and you're down 15."

Wild continued to lead the Pandas offensively in the second half, adding another six in the third, and seven in the fourth. MacEwan's play cleaned up considerably in the third quarter as they managed to outscore the Pandas. 

The Griffins, needing a massive fourth quarter to cut into the considerable Pandas lead, mustered just 14 points on 3-for-11 shooting. 

MacEwan got nine points and eight rebounds from fifth-year veteran Kayla Ivicak in the loss, while newcomer Anna Mbuyi, a fifth-year transfer from Lakeland College, also chipped in nine, while leading the Griffins with three steals.

MacEwan will host Alberta in their home opener on Saturday (Noon, David Atkinson Gym).

Adams hopes they can use some lessons learned on Thursday to their advantage.

"Definitely some good learning about recognizing these moments and recognizing what we need in certain situations to be able to be better decision-makers," she said.

"We need to have the maturity to recognize and know what's needed in those situations to not let a couple of errors become a handful."