Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – With a style built on gritty, hard-working minutes, fifth-year guard Kayla Ivicak put the MacEwan Griffins women's basketball team on her back and willed them to their first victory of the Canada West season on Friday night.
The St. Albert native produced a monster double-double (20 points and 18 rebounds) to lead MacEwan to a 73-64 win over the visiting Winnipeg Wesmen.
Ivicak's rebound total included 10 in the first half alone as she recorded the second-most boards in a Canada West match in MacEwan history (just shy of Kelly Fagan's 20-rebound effort during the 2014-15 season).
"I think it was (being) tired of losing games," she said. "It was time to go out there and give it my all. That was about it. I wasn't going to let anyone else out-rebound me – just give it my all, 110 per cent and hopefully get the team following as well and they did.
"It was awesome. We were going for those effort plays, and we had girls rebounding, making an effort to get in there."
If Ivicak brought the gumption, second-year forward Mackenzie Farmer brought the sizzle, showing off an array of moves as she weaved her way to a 19-point night on 6-for-13 shooting from the field. She added a team-high five assists and seven rebounds.
"It's something that doesn't come as a surprise because we've seen this in a practice environment," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams. "It's something we've been stressing and working on. They both have a nose for the ball, they both can put the ball in the bucket.
"Overall, our entire team's (effort) was great to put them in that situation and allow them to do what they do best."
Hannah Gibb also hit double digits for the Griffins with 11 points on 3-for-4 shooting from the three-point line in just 12 minutes on the court. Shannon Majeau chipped in six points and nine rebounds.
Winnipeg was never behind by much in the contest, but they spent nearly 23 minutes in the middle of the contest in arrears of the Griffins, who feistily refused to relinquish the lead, even if it was never greater than nine points.
The Wesmen found a ton of iron in the first half, in particular, as their dominance of the offensive boards went unrewarded. They shot just 16 per cent as a team in the second quarter and also had a nightmare fourth quarter, going 16.8 for a game total of 26.7 per cent.
Winnipeg was led by star forward Faith Hezekiah, who caught fire in the second half to finish with a game-high 21 points and 15 rebounds for her third double-double of the season. Lena Wenke added 15 points, while Farrah Castillo bucketed 13, to go along with a team-high four assists.
The Wesmen fought back to take their first lead since early in the second quarter with just 4:37 left when Wenke dropped two free throws for a 61-59 advantage.
But the Griffins wouldn't be denied, wresting the momentum back on a Kristen Monfort-Palomino three-pointer and cruising to the finish line on the backs of Farmer and Ivicak, who combined for the final 11 points of the contest.
"We've been in these moments before," said Adams. "Previously, we've let teams go on runs and haven't been able to get stops when we've needed him. We said 'this is an important moment. We need a stop.'
"I think the important win for us was in the last two minutes was we said, 'we need every D board.' I have to go back and confirm on tape, but I can't recall them getting an O board in the last two minutes, which really let us take control and control the pace on offence and get what we wanted.
"Really, really great learning for us to execute down the stretch when we had the lead."
The teams will meet again on Saturday night (5 p.m., David Atkinson Gym).