Ivicak overwhelms Cougars with huge double double in 73-66 win for Griffins

Kayla Ivicak, seen in action against Alberta earlier this season, had 21 points and 19 rebounds for the Griffins on Friday night (Chris Piggott photo).
Kayla Ivicak, seen in action against Alberta earlier this season, had 21 points and 19 rebounds for the Griffins on Friday night (Chris Piggott photo).

MacEwan Athletics and MRU Athletics

CALGARY – Kayla Ivicak overwhelmed the homestanding Mount Royal University Cougars on Friday as she continues to play some of the best basketball of her career in this, her final university season.

With 21 points and 19 rebounds, the St. Albert product produced another monster double double – her fourth of the season – to lead the Griffins past MRU 73-66.

"She was outstanding for us tonight as we've come to expect from her," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams. "I think after tonight she's MacEwan's all-time career leading scorer in U SPORTS (competition)."

Ivicak now has 849 career points in Canada West competition. None of her most recent 21 points stood out more than the others, said Adams, who noted Ivicak's play was thoroughly dominating throughout Friday's contest – an effort that also included four steals and three assists in 29 minutes.

"Kayla delivers all the time," she said. "She is who she is and she's going to give you everything she has every moment she's on the floor.

"Obviously with 19 rebounds you're going to have some pretty huge ones at key times, but it's hard to say any one is any bigger than others. They all are so valuable to us."

Mackenzie Farmer had a nice night, as well, scoring 16 points, while Kristen Monfort-Palomino chipped in nine as the Griffins matched their best offensive output of the season, improving to 3-6.

The gym was electric right from the get-go on MRU's Shoot for the Cure night as both teams looked to run and play at a fast pace. The Griffins were able to deal with the aggressive defence from the Cougars and started the game on a 10-0 run to break out to an early lead.

Despite the early deficit, the Cougars energy and outside shooting helped them respond and get back into the game. They ended the quarter on a 10-4 run, cutting the Griffins' lead to four and taking momentum heading into the second quarter.

Ivicak got off to a hot start for the visitors, as she scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds through the first quarter.

"Right from the get-go we came out attacking," said Adams. "We had some success early attacking the rim. When you get good looks and they drop for you early, it gives you some confidence to keep attacking and keep doing what you're doing.

"Previous games where we've had the same looks and they haven't fallen for us, you get a little gun shy. I think that was huge for us today, just getting off to a good start and building the momentum from there."

In the second quarter, the Griffins were able to find success on the offensive end by getting to the rim and finishing when they got there.

The Cougars didn't stay down long as the game of runs continued as the Cougars came firing back to cut their deficit to three with one minute remaining in the half.

After the Griffins' scored the final basket of the half, they took a 42-37 lead into the break.

Coming out of the halftime break both teams fought to take momentum. They spent the majority of the quarter trading baskets and getting to the free throw line. After only seven free throw attempts in the first half, the teams combined for 17 shots at the line in the third.

When the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter, the Griffins had taken a seven-point lead.

The defensive intensity in the fourth was upped by both teams. The Griffins slowly built their lead up over the course of the quarter, but once again the Cougars were able to respond cut their deficit down heading into the stretch run of the game. MRU found success getting the ball inside and grabbing offensive rebounds to gain extra possessions, to help them get back within reach of MacEwan.

Despite the Cougars fight down the stretch, the Griffins were able to hold them off and come away with the six-point win.

The two teams will tip-off the second game of the weekend Saturday night at Kenyon Court. The game starts at 4 p.m. MDT and will be streamed live on Canada West TV.