Ivicak's huge night, solid defensive effort not enough as Griffins fall 59-50 to Vikes

Kayla Ivicak scored 26 points and added 10 rebounds for her eighth double double of the 2018-19 season (Full Stroke Photography).
Kayla Ivicak scored 26 points and added 10 rebounds for her eighth double double of the 2018-19 season (Full Stroke Photography).

MacEwan Athletics and Victoria Athletics

VICTORIA – Kayla Ivicak scored a monster 26-point, 10-rebound double double, while the MacEwan Griffins held the Victoria Vikes to their second-lowest offensive output of the season.

But neither was enough to net a season-saving victory as the Griffins fell 59-50 on Friday night.

"I was really impressed with our defensive effort tonight," said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams.

"We held a team that averages in the high 70's in points to just 59 today. We knew coming into the game that we needed to play solid defence if we wanted to give ourselves a chance to win. That being said, they also defended us tough tonight. We got one part of the job done and but unfortunately our shooting percentage let us down."

Victoria got 26 points from their own fifth-year guard Amira Giannattasio and rode an early lead to victory.

"MacEwan is known to be a physical, tough defensive team and we kind of knew what we were going to see and they forced us to take some tough shots," said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. "We sort of did what needed to do but we didn't finish the game well. We relaxed a little bit and turned the ball over too much."

Ivicak was at her best in the fourth quarter as the Griffins attempted a comeback. They turned a 19-point deficit into nine in the final couple of minutes as she completed her eighth double double of the season. That leaves her one shy of her own school record for most in a season with one game remaining.

"Once again, we had a little bit of difficulty scoring, a little bit of difficulty at the offensive end in the first three quarters," said Adams. "Kayla was solid for us all night, obviously, but she made some big shots for us in the fourth quarter."

Mady Chamberlin added seven points for the Griffins, while Mackenzie Farmer and senior Kristen Monfort-Palomino each had six.

While the fact they didn't hit enough shots – finishing with a 35.6 per cent shooting percentage from the field – cost them, Adams was proud of the defensive effort, especially since arguably their best defensive player, Shannon Majeau, played just seven minutes before leaving with an injury.

"We were without Shannon for the majority of the game and got into some foul trouble," she said. "We asked some kids to come in and play some different roles and they did honourably well to do that.

"We know offence has always been our Achilles' heel a little bit, but defensively the girls put in a solid effort tonight," she added. "We just needed to come through at the offensive end to make it a bit more of a game."

With the result, the Griffins fall to 6-13, while Victoria improves to 11-8.

The Vikes got off on the right start as Giannattasio came out of the gate to score a quick six points to send the home side in to a 17-7 lead at the first break. Edmonton native Ivicak had 11 of her team's points, while both teams were equally handing out turnovers.
In the second quarter the Griffins started to close the gap, being out-scored 13-11. The Vikes had some scoring by committee in the second as Day drained a few key layups, while Katie Langdon was using her six-foot-one stature under the hoop to pick up some key offensive rebounds and two buckets. Monfort-Palomino drained a three pointer in the final minute of the quarter to leave the Griffins down 30-18 at half time.
Starting the third Ivicak got the Griffins on the board to cut the Vikes' lead to 10. Calli McMillan was able to put in a jumper to get the Vikes back on a roll. Giannattasio scored a bucket and three from the line to give the Vikes a 5-0 run but MacEwan responded through Ivicak. The Vikes continued to advance their lead despite some sloppy play. A bucket from each of Darian Mahmi and Chamberlin got the Griffins back within 13 as they trailed 42-29 entering the fourth.
Ivicak went solo between a static Vikes defence to open the fourth and she saw her left-hand layup fall to get the Griffins within 11, down 42-31. Some messy play on both sides made for a chippy fourth quarter. Giannattasio hit the first three of the night to keep the Vikes ahead 51-34 but the Griffins couldn't seem to find the same vibe from beyond the arc. Finally, Giannattasio seemed to get back to her early rhythm, draining a second three, unanswered, and a layup as the Vike led by 17, up 57-40.
Giannattasio subbed off with under three minutes to go after securing 26 points, giving way for first years Hannah Walline and Roza Kalashnikoff to get some minutes. MacEwan's Farmer and Ivicak continued to run the floor for the visitors as Ivicak did more than half of the Griffin's damage. Chamberlin drained a shot from beyond the arc with under a minute to go to keep the game within 10.
Giannattasio's 26 was enough to give the end of the Vikes the win they needed to improve to 11-8 with a final score of 59-50. The Griffins drop to 6-13, while records and RPI rankings make it difficult to show the clear playoff picture.
"We usually score a lot more than that, but we only gave up 50 so if we can rely on our defence then that's OK," added Sinclair. "I think we need more balanced attack offensively and sometimes we get caught up in doing what we are told and not just playing basketball. We played really well defensively in a lot of ways, better than we have been. We showed well we just didn't shoot the ball well."

The teams will meet in the rematch on Saturday (6 p.m. MT, Canada West TV).