Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Each second of a disciplined press defence that wrapped a blanket around the MacEwan Griffins staked the Calgary Dinos to an insurmountable lead by the fourth quarter of Friday's Canada West women's basketball match.
If there was a moment that defined the 71-41 win for the visitors, though, it was when they had a 33-point lead with three minutes left but still maintained a ferocious full-court press that forced the Griffins into 32 turnovers.
Consistency never waning, the Dinos offered no quarter in posting a victory that pushes their record to 12-3 in the standings.
"Ultimately, it's part of our style of basketball," said Dinos head coach Damian Jennings. "We have a real belief in the conversion part of the game, so our defence informs our offence in how we select shots. Our offence informs how we defend.
"We just believe if there's a pie chart, one of the better expressions of various ways to score, part of that is coming from the defence when you try to be 90 feet up the floor," he continued. "Whether that's up by 30 – it's not to be disrespectful – or up by 20, it's how we want to play and how we believe we can maximize each game whether they're tight games or margins where we're down or up."
Despite the finish, the Griffins gave the Dinos all they could handle early in the first quarter, feeding them some of their own medicine with a zone defensive shape that held Calgary's offence in check.
"We came out knowing the type of game it was going to be – the fast pace. We know the defensive intensity with which they play," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams. "I thought we hung tough for a little while, but we got a little bit fatigued at the start of the second quarter. They went on a 16-0 run and that kills any kind of momentum you've tried to build up to that point. Now it's a different game when you're trying to chip away and claw back.
"I thought our kids responded really well in the second half. Defensively, they came out and put in a solid effort. Calgary's a very talented team and you saw that today with some of the turnovers that they forced, the transition buckets … it's just seamless."
And frustrating. The home side had little time to set their feet and shoot as the Dinos moved fast, got hands in faces and contested everything.
"I think there were moments where I was certainly pleased, but I actually thought it was MacEwan who gave us fits in terms of time to shoot," said Jennings. "Actually, it was almost a rebound reaction for us where we had to say, 'OK, they're giving us a lesson in that.' So, I really like the fight in the dog and obviously they're well prepared by Katherine.
"I thought both teams demonstrated that particular element of the game well at times."
Erin McIntosh led Calgary with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Sascha Lichtenwald bucketed 14 and Liene Stalidzane put away 11.
MacEwan didn't have a scorer in double digits, but at least cracked the 40-point barrier when Kristen Monfort-Palomino jarred a late three-pointer. Shannon Majeau paced MacEwan's effort with eight points, while Kayla Ivicak and Darian Mahmi each had seven.
Although, the loss will drop MacEwan to 4-9 in the standings, there are takeaways they can build on as they aim for a playoff spot.
"We hit a couple timely (three-pointers) to give us some momentum and keep us engaged," said Adams. "Really, it was at the defensive that I thought we (did well). Calgary's averaging 77 points a game and for us to hold us under their season average is something that we take a lot of pride in.
"That's the focus to us and how we can build off that and hopefully create more at the offensive end."
The teams will meet again on Saturday (5 p.m., David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV).