MacEwan Athletics and MRU Athletics
CALGARY – Working the inside with authority, the MacEwan Griffins brushed off a season-high 32 turnovers to beat the Mount Royal University Cougars 69-54 in Canada West women's basketball action on Saturday.
As a result, they complete a weekend sweep for the first time this season (on the road, no less) and move back into playoff contention with a 4-6 record.
"It's our first sweep of the season and I said to the team after the game it's never easy to go into someone else's gym and win two, so the confidence we gained from it is huge moving forward," said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams.
"We keep the playoff picture in mind, but it's one game at a time and one weekend at a time. Our focus right now is to take care of what's next and if we do that, hopefully things will fall into place."
Mackenzie Farmer led the Griffins with 14 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench, while Kayla Ivicak recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds, adding four steals.
"A bit of an emphasis for us moving forward is a team effort," said Adams. "Obviously, we know what Kayla brings to the table and we know they're going to key in on her. She had another huge night tonight with 13 points and 14 rebounds, but we had a lot of other people step up.
"Both of our bigs today – Shannon (Majeau) and Ellie (McCarthy) – had six points and eight rebounds and some of those scores came at really key times for us when we needed something to happen. We had good positioning and ran good action to get them the ball. They did a nice job finishing."
MRU netted just 21 points on MacEwan's 32 turnovers and committed 28 of their own, so the eye-popping negative numbers didn't really impact the contest that much.
"We know turnovers have been a sore spot for us all year and Mount Royal plays a style that is a little bit chaotic and frantic designed to get you to turn the ball over so they can get scoring opportunities for themselves," said Adams. "It's crazy because 32 sounds like a lot, but I actually thought when it came down to it and it mattered, we did what we needed to do.
"We got the shots that we needed and got the ball in the hands of the right people at the right times."
Both teams put on a defensive clinic in the first quarter. After her performance on Friday, the Cougars focused their defensive efforts on keeping the ball out of Ivicak's hands. On the other end, the Griffins forced MRU into tough looks that the home team couldn't convert.
MacEwan started to heat up in final two minutes of the first and built a nine-point lead heading to the second.
The second saw both teams' break through on the offensive end. The Griffins found success early by getting the ball inside and getting to the free throw line. In the first half, they made 11 of their 14 shots from the line, helping them build a lead.
The Cougars also found success at the charity stripe. They converted all eight attempts from the line in the second quarter and all 10 in the first half.
The two teams traded runs up and down the floor in a fast-paced third quarter. The defensive pressure was increased on both ends, looking to force turnovers and get into the open floor and run.
The Cougars were able to use their energy to cut their deficit to three, but MacEwan sapped that momentum when Rachel Hare hit a three from the corner and Anna Mbuyi stole the inbounds pass for a layup to quickly put the lead back to eight.
The back and forth action continued into the fourth quarter, as MacEwan tried to hold off the Cougars' comeback attempt. The Griffins eventually got their lead to double-digits in the final two minutes after a contested deep shot clock-beating three-pointer from Kristen Monfort-Palomino.
"I think our defensive effort today was outstanding," said Adams. "Mount Royal didn't shoot the ball as well as they did yesterday, which definitely played a factor. We outrebounded them 56- 39."
Both teams will look to pick up wins on the road next weekend. MRU travels to Vancouver to face the UBC Thunderbirds, while the Griffins head to Regina for their games with the Cougars.