Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Mady Chamberlin took a brief moment to assess the situation.
She was wide open behind the arc with two seconds left on the clock.
Letting a three-pointer fly, she closed her eyes and hoped it would find the bottom of the net.
"I didn't know if it was going to go in or not, but Drew (Knox) was like 'the second it left your hands I knew it was going in.'
"When it went in, I was like 'oh my gosh, I could cry right now.' "
You wouldn't blame any of the Griffins if they did as they poured off the bench in a wild celebration after taking down U SPORTS No. 1-ranked Calgary 71-68 in their home opener at the David Atkinson Gym on Friday night.
"It wasn't quite the way we diagramed it, but the wherewithal for Haley (Lalor) to attack a little bit and draw (defenders was huge)," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams of the seconds before she passed to Chamberlin for the final shot.
"Mady's been shooting well in practice this week, so no surprise given the opportunity she rises to the occasion and seals the win."
The victory, MacEwan's first of the season, pushed their record to 1-2, while handing the Dinos (2-1) their first loss of the campaign.
"More than outcome, this is just so huge for our team and our progress in where we want to go and learning how to win," said Adams. "The poise and composure that we showed in a close-game situation, executing when we needed to, getting stops when we needed to … there are still some mistakes and still some growth necessary, but that growth alone is, in my eyes, even bigger than getting the win tonight."
W��| Five years to the day after @MacEwanU Griffins beat @USPORTS_Bball No. 1 @ReginaCougars, they do it again, upsetting top-ranked @UCDinos 71-68 on Mady Chamberlin's buzzer-beating three. @CanadaWest #GriffNation— MacEwan Griffins (@MacEwanGriffins) November 13, 2021
They've done this before, of course.
In fact, it's exactly five years ago to the day that the Griffins last upset a U SPORTS No. 1 team when they shaded Regina 73-72.
"My first year coaching (at MacEwan)," noted Adams. "Regina was number one, came into our gym. We battled tough on the Friday night and ended up coming to win on Saturday right at the end, too. Kendall Lydon hit a couple of free throws to seal the deal in that game."
Giant killers aren't just born. It starts with belief and that's what the Griffins had all week, even though not many others were giving them a chance at more than a moral victory against the undefeated Dinos.
Griffins players surround Mady Chamberlin in celebration after she drained a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer on Friday night (Lisa Cannon photo).
"All week we've been saying if we play the way we know we can, we can take this team and compete with any team in the league, honestly," said Chamberlin. "We came in with the right mindset and we competed."
Did they ever. In the most complete game the Griffins have put forth in many years, the team moved the ball well, was fierce on defence and attacked the post all night. And they had Noelle Kilbreath.
The second-year guard took her fourth foul of the game with 8:21 left in the third quarter and took a seat. Odds were she wouldn't become a factor in the contest after that, but not only did she return, she scored 11 points – in a row, nonetheless – for the Griffins in the fourth quarter, including one bucket where she took on the Dinos D 1-on-3 down low and still came up with a spin-around layup.
"It was funny because in a timeout, I said to the team 'keep pushing. Noelle's fresh,' " said Adams. "She certainly gave us a punch. And we know she can score and is creative and will find crafty ways to put the ball in the hoop.
"That's the Noelle we know and that's the Noelle we love. And it's what we needed in that moment."
Kilbreath led the Griffins with 18 points, while Mackenzie Farmer had 14, Chamberlin finished 11 and Hannah Gibb – who hit two key three-pointers in a row from opposite corners early in the fourth quarter – had nine.
The teams will meet in a rematch on Saturday (5 p.m., David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV presented by Co-op). Stuffed in the Griffins' back pocket is a belief in their ability to win when it matters the most. Even though the Dinos came back from an eight-point deficit to tie the game late, the Griffins found a way to prevail.
"This is a huge momentum shift, especially after the weekend we had before," said Chamberlin. "This just reinforces everything we've been working towards all year. This shows we do know how to win."