Griffins show some fight in huge second quarter rally before running out gas against UBC

Rookie Joel Seke, seen in action against UNBC last month, led the Griffins with 18 points, 16 of those coming in the second quarter (Rich Abney photo).
Rookie Joel Seke, seen in action against UNBC last month, led the Griffins with 18 points, 16 of those coming in the second quarter (Rich Abney photo).

Jason Hills 
For MacEwan Athletics 
EDMONTON – After getting punched in the mouth pretty hard and getting down as many as 17 points in the opening quarter, it could've been easy for the MacEwan Griffins to just give in to the UBC Thunderbirds, but they did quite the opposite. 

They fought back and cut UBC's lead to seven at the half, and got it down to as little as four, but UBC was simply just too strong as the Griffins fell 84-67 on Friday night at the David Atkinson Gym. 

"We ran out of gas, and we got into some foul trouble, and we didn't have everyone playing as connected as they needed to be. We had a couple guys that weren't quite into it, and that's what happens," said Griffins head coach Mike Connolly. 

"There were a lot more good things than bad things. We got over the nerves at the beginning, maybe we were a little intimidated by them, but once we realized we could play with them, we had a good second and third quarter and half of the fourth quarter, but then it fell apart." 

Rookie guard Joel Seke led the Griffins in scoring with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Job Janda recorded 15 points and seven rebounds in the loss.

Brian Wallack led UBC with 24 points and 10 rebounds in the victory. 

MacEwan fell to 0-7 this season, while UBC improved to 5-4. 

"We just need to continue to build and move forward. They're a good team, they're building towards a national championship, and they're a Top 10 team (in the country). I was happy how we showed. We just must fix a few things," said Connolly. 

UBC came flying out on the opening tip, jumping out to an early 12-4 lead and continued to push, extending their lead to 24-7 and finished the quarter leading MacEwan 30-13. 

But the Griffins went to work in the second quarter, and they were led by Seke who scored 16 of his 18 points in the second, giving the Griffins a much-needed spark. 

"That's what we thought Joel could do. He's a local product from St. FX and he's young and has had some injuries early in the year, and now he's starting to get into his groove," said Connolly. 
"We think he can be that kind of player for us." 

The Griffins came out in the second half and continued to try and close the gap. They cut UBC's lead to 59-55 off a jumper from Damilola Osuma, who scored nine points for MacEwan, but then the Griffins fouled Brendan Sullivan beyond the arc, and Sullivan nailed all three free throws, giving UBC a seven-point lead and the momentum shifted back. 

Two corner threes from Fareed Shittu late in the third quarter and early in the fourth made it 70-56, and the Griffins, just couldn't recover. 

 "We gave them a couple easy buckets. They shot 58% (from 2-point range), and too many easy looks where we broke down defensively in transition, or we didn't rotate on our ball screen defence," said Connolly. 

"When we played them five-on-five, we gave them issues. We will have to watch our film and make some adjustments and come back tomorrow for another battle." 

MacEwan will wrap up their first half of conference play tomorrow when they finish their weekend series against UBC (5 p.m., David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV).