Costly turnovers upend an otherwise valiant effort for Griffins against U SPORTS No. 2 Victoria

Matthew Osunde led the Griffins with a double double, recording 17 points and 14 rebounds on Friday (Robert Antoniuk photo).
Matthew Osunde led the Griffins with a double double, recording 17 points and 14 rebounds on Friday (Robert Antoniuk photo).

Jason Hills
For MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON — In what would be considered a David vs Goliath matchup against one of the best teams in the nation, the MacEwan Griffins had moments where they hung with the U SPORTS No. 2-ranked Victoria Vikes, but far too many turnovers cost them.

Victoria outscored the Griffins 28-4 off turnovers as MacEwan committed 21 in a 95-47 loss Friday night at the David Atkinson Gym.

Matthew Osunde recorded a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Damilola Osuma had 11 points and four rebounds in the loss.

Diego Maffia led the Vikes with 18 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in just over 15 minutes of action.

"Turnovers killed us, and we gave them too many open threes," said Griffins head coach Mike Connolly.

"We had a goal, we wanted to keep them down to under 25 attempted threes and they had 33 and made 11 of them. That made a big difference."

The Griffins held Victoria to just 38 per cent shooting at the half, and the Vikes struggled from beyond the arc in the first half, hitting just 2-for-15. But the visitors made adjustments in the second half, and the Griffins weren't able to defend the three-point shot as well.

In the first half, if they didn't commit so many turnovers (16), they wouldn't have dug themselves such a big hole, as they trailed 45-23 at halftime.

"We held our own defensively in the first half, but we had 16 turnovers. It should've been a 45-35 game, instead we were down 22," said Connolly.

In the second half, the Vikings found their groove from three-point land. Maffia and Ethan Boag hit two, while Izzy Helman and Elias Ralph hit one each.

Seven different players finished with at least one make from the three-point line.

"We have to find a way to cut that down," said Osuma.

"We tried to focus on their threes (three-point shooting), and I thought we did a really good job in that regard, but then they came out in the second half and started to play through us and started hitting their threes.

"We have to keep fighting and tell ourselves we're good enough to play with them. We have to lock in, rebound and defend and do the little things."

The loss drops the Griffins to 0-19, while Victoria improves to 14-3. It's been a tough season for MacEwan, but they've shown to be competitive in a number of games this season.

Against Victoria, that's an incredibly tall task, as they're filled with veteran talent and are a national championship contender that's won the last two Canada West titles.

"The guys are working hard, and they have a good attitude for the most part, but we have to keep moving forward," said Connolly.

"I told them, they're playing against arguably the best team in Canada. It's a measuring stick. Where are you compared to the best in the league? We have more work to do."

Connolly was happy with the performance of Osunde who continued his strong season with another all-around effort.

He was also pleased with the effort from Osuma, who has taken a step forward this season.

"He's (Osunde) working hard and doing his thing and he continues to get better. We need to get more help (next year) and we will," said Connolly.

The Griffins will wrap up their weekend series with the Vikes as well as their season on Saturday when they face Victoria at 1 p.m. (David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV).