Young players carry the load for the Griffins after vets get into foul trouble in loss to UBC

Thai Haak co-led the Griffins in scoring with 12 points (Eduardo Perez photo).
Thai Haak co-led the Griffins in scoring with 12 points (Eduardo Perez photo).

Jason Hills 
For MacEwan Athletics 
EDMONTON – Playing against an elite team like the UBC Thunderbirds, you must limit your mistakes, because you'll pay for it, and that's what happened to the MacEwan Griffins. 

Foul trouble in the first half, and too many defensive breakdowns hurt MacEwan in a 96-63 loss on Saturday evening at the David Atkinson Gym. 

Joel Seke and Thai Haak led the Griffins with 12 points each, while Job Janda had 11 points and eight rebounds for MacEwan in the loss. 

Adam Olsen led UBC with 17 points and six rebounds, while Fareed Shittu had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Five players scored in double figures for the T-Birds.

MacEwan fell to 0-8 this season, while UBC improved to 6-4. 

"I didn't think our defence was very good. We didn't get back fast enough, and we gave them too many easy looks ... and we gave them too many wide-open threes," said Griffins head coach Mike Connolly. 

"We've got to be better focused. We're doing some good things, but when we lose focus, it hurts us, and against a good team like that, they'll make you pay." 

MacEwan fell behind big early on Friday night against UBC, but for the first half of the opening quarter on Saturday, they hung right with them. 

They trailed just 14-11, after Matthew Osunde hit corner three-pointer, but then things got away from them. 

Milan Jaksic and Damilola Osuma, who was off to a great start offensively in the game, got into foul trouble and the Griffins were forced to make some substitutions. As a result, UBC took full advantage with two of MacEwan's most experienced players off the floor as they finished the first quarter on a 19-4 run to lead 33-15. 

"We got into foul trouble with a couple of our key guys, and we can't have that. They need to be better disciplined," said Connolly. "They need to understand to be better and more disciplined as two of our captains to be able to stay on the floor." 

The Griffins trailed 50-33 at the half, but in the second half, UBC was able to break the game open, taking control of the paint, while also hitting more shots from long range. 

"In the second half, our defence let us down, and we started to get frustrated," said Connolly. 

"I think we did more good things and bad things this weekend, but when you do too many bad things against a Top 10 team like that, they'll make you pay." 

With two of their more experienced players in foul trouble, it allowed for some of the Griffins younger players to get more playing time, and for a second-straight game Seke led the team in scoring. And after a tough game offensively on Friday for Haak, the sharp-shooting guard responded on Saturday, hitting some big shots for the Griffins. 

Another young player to provide some strong play at both ends of the floor was Mawien Monydhar, who scored seven points and hauled in 11 rebounds. 

"With Thai, he needs to play defence and run and shoot the ball when he's open and attack," said Connolly. "He's only going into his second year, and we've had to rush him, and throw him into the fire, but I talked to him last night and just told him to be patient and he had a much better effort today." 

MacEwan will now be off for the Christmas break, before returning to action against their cross-town rival, Alberta Golden Bears on Jan. 5-6 at the Saville Community Sports Centre.