Griffins' loss to Heat ends UBCO program's 707-day losing streak

Mackenzie Farmer, shown in action against Winnipeg earlier this season, had 13 points for the Griffins in Friday's loss to the Heat (Chris Piggott photo).
Mackenzie Farmer, shown in action against Winnipeg earlier this season, had 13 points for the Griffins in Friday's loss to the Heat (Chris Piggott photo).

MacEwan Athletics and UBCO Athletics

KELOWNA, B.C. – It's no fun to become an answer to a trivia question.

In this case: who was the Canada West women's basketball team that the UBC-Okanagan Heat beat to end a 707-day long losing streak?

The MacEwan Griffins are unfortunately the answer after they fell 60-51 on Friday night.

It's a defeat that deals a blow to the Griffins' playoff hopes as they fall to 4-11 in the standings, while the Heat improve to 1-16.

"I'm really happy for the players," said Heat coach Bobby Mitchell after the Heat program's first win since Feb. 10, 2017. "They have been working really hard and trusting us and sticking with it and players win games, so I'm really proud of them.

"It was a good team effort and we felt it the whole week. Every game in and whether it was a minute or 40 everyone came in and contributed."

MacEwan's undoing came in the first quarter when they fell behind by eight (21-13). They were just unable to make up the deficit in a tightly-contested game the rest of the way.

"We shot ourselves in the foot early and gave them some momentum," said head coach Katherine Adams. "I mean, they had a great first quarter. They shot 53 per cent. They were 9-for 17. It really gave them momentum. It was a one-point game the remaining three quarters.

"They did a good job holding on and not letting us gain enough momentum to chip away," she added. "We made an effort at it, but just couldn't score when we needed it to close the gap."

Kayla Ivicak led the Griffins with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Mackenzie Farmer also had 13 points. Kristen Monfort-Palomino added nine points and two steals.

UBCO duo Vanessa Botteselle and Jordan Korol were too much, though. The former fell just short of the first triple-double in program history with 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while the latter posted a monster double-double with 17 points and 15 boards.

MacEwan was unable to put together the same kind of defensive effort that they had against Calgary six days earlier when they held the far tougher Dinos to 61 points – their second-lowest offensive output of the season.

"We had moments where we got there," said Adams. "Credit to them. They hit shots and they came out and did what they needed to do to get off to a great start.

"There were a couple of times late in the game I thought we were defending tough and they hit some tough shots to kill any momentum that we had. Ultimately for us, we certainly weren't the same team that we saw last weekend at the defensive end. "

They also weren't the same team on several different fronts. Without a free-throw attempt in the first half, the Griffins only had 12 all game. They were outrebounded 48-38, a rare discrepancy for a team that prides itself on a blue-collar work ethic.

"That kind of paints a picture of our mindset, aggression and willingness to compete from the outset, which put us behind the 8-ball and made it tough to come back from," said Adams.

"It's not that we didn't compete. We did at times, it just wasn't a consistent enough effort right from the get-go."

They'll have a chance at redemption in Saturday's rematch (6 p.m. MT, Canada West TV).