Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Challenged by his head coach a night after riding the pine in a scoreless effort, fifth-year MacEwan men's basketball guard Deonte Doslov-Doctor's response was loud and clear: six three-pointers and a game-high 26 points as the Griffins pushed Thompson Rivers University to the limit on Saturday.
It wasn't enough to win – the victory goes to the WolfPack by a 79-74 count – but it was exactly the type of performance a young team can rally around moving forward.
"I thought he played with energy," said MacEwan head coach Mike Connolly. "Last night he didn't play with energy, he didn't get after it and he had to sit, and he had to learn.
"But the good thing is we're not burying guys. Tomorrow's a new day. If they have a bad day one day, they're going to have another chance."
It almost paid off with a win, but the Griffins will instead settle for a moral victory as they fall to 0-6 on the Canada West men's basketball campaign. TRU improves to 5-1, impressively completing a sweep in their first two-game weekend road trip of the season.
"It's the second night on the road and that's a tough task," said TRU head coach Scott Clark. "Hopefully, we're understanding what is required to win on the road in this league. This is a true road trip with air travel. I just think winning two nights on the road in anybody's building is a difficult thing and we're fortunate to walk away with a win."
The game was up for grabs after the Griffins clawed back from a 14-point deficit to take a one-point advantage into the fourth quarter. But the WolfPack played a cleaner game and hit a few more shots when it counted most.
"I thought down the stretch there, Brendan Sullivan had a heck of a good rebound," said Clark. "I thought everybody just handled the ball cleanly as a group and that's probably some of the differential."
Micheal Rouault produced a double double for the second-straight night in leading TRU with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Anton Bilous was solid down the stretch with 18 points, while both Tyus De Vries and Joe Davis bucketed 14.
Doslov-Doctor's 26-point effort, which included a spectacular buzzer-beating prayer from his own three-point line that found the twine at the end of the first half, is tied for the ninth-best single game mark in MacEwan's Canada West history and matches his career high set against Brandon last winter. Mason Hunter added 20 points as he also hit six three-pointers.
"I think today for the first time he really looked for his shot," said Connolly of the ACAC all-star last season with UAlberta-Augustana. "That's why he came here, he's supposed to shoot the ball. And he started shooting it and got a little bit of confidence and got rolling. That's what he needs to do, he needs to shoot it when he's open."
While it may be another loss for MacEwan, there's no doubt the game is something they can build off of. Connolly was pleased they racked up 20 assists – double what TRU had – which shows how well they were moving the ball.
"As long as we keep improving, that's what we've talked about this year," he said. "We're not in the running to win a championship in Canada West. We just need to keep getting better and better with this young group of guys. We've got to continue to get better to compete. When we get through this year, whatever happens with our record, we'll be mentally tougher and better prepared to play for next year."
TRU returns home to Kamloops, B.C. as they host UNBC on Nov. 22-23, while MacEwan has a bye week before hitting the road to visit Trinity Western on Nov. 29-30.