Griffins build early lead, hang on for thrilling 67-66 win over Dinos

Mackenzie Farmer led the Griffins to victory over the Calgary Dinos with 26 points on Saturday (David Moll photo).
Mackenzie Farmer led the Griffins to victory over the Calgary Dinos with 26 points on Saturday (David Moll photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

CALGARY – A night after losing to the Calgary Dinos after conceding a late offensive rebound, turnabout became fair play for the MacEwan Griffins on Saturday.

This time, Shannon Majeau grabbed an offensive board with just 13 seconds left and drained a free throw that would prove to be the difference in a tight 67-66 win for MacEwan in Canada West women's basketball action.

"We kind of had a replay of yesterday, just on the other side of it, where we missed two free throws, got a great offensive rebound and they fouled us again," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams. "Shannon went to the line and hit one of two to increase that margin to three."

Calgary's Amélie Collin hit a buzzer-beater but it only counted as two points when she was forced to step over the line to get around a defender.

Game over.

It will be scored as a weekend split for the Griffins for the second-straight time this season with Calgary. With the victory, MacEwan improves to 2-7, while the Dinos fall to 6-4.

"Yesterday's experience certainly helped us today," said Adams of a tight 50-46 loss, also decided in the final few seconds. "I'm not sure we would have wanted it to be quite as close as it was, but the growth and learning we took from yesterday helped us today and hopefully will continue to help us moving forward."

On Saturday, Noelle Kilbreath hit a crucial three-pointer with 23 seconds left to give MacEwan a two-point lead heading into the final couple sequences.

"It wasn't necessarily that it was what we were going for in that case, but it was open and she had the courage to step up and take that when we needed it" said Adams. "It certainly elevated our team and energized us to play out the last few seconds of the game."

Collin led the Dinos with a double double (19 points, 10 rebounds).

Mackenzie Farmer led the Griffins with 26 points, while Kilbreath finished with 14 points and eight rebounds and Hannah Gibb chipped in 12 points.

"I'm so proud of her efforts," said Adams of Farmer. "She's playing with a broken finger.

"When she plays like she does today, it really helps other people be their best as well because teams have to key in on her. She's dangerous in so many ways."

Noelle Kilbreath hit a key three-pointer with 23 seconds left as the Griffins hung on to beat the Dinos 67-66 (David Moll photo).

In the end, all that really counts is the win, but for the Griffins, they seemed to have Saturday's contest well in hand early on. Up 42-21 at the half, they were in full control of the proceedings.

Until they just went stone cold. Without a basket for six minutes spread between the third and fourth quarters, the Griffins gave up a 13-0 run that cut their lead to just five with 7:04 left.

Eventually, the Dinos rallied for their first lead of the game with 1:12 remaining (64-63) when Collin made a layup.

"It was a tale of two games," said Adams. "I think our play in the first half was some of the best we've seen all year from our team. We moved the ball well, we found people in great scoring positions and really helped each other be great at what us as individuals are great at. It allowed us to play with some freedom and flow.

"Calgary came back in the second half as we knew they would and just kind of stifled it and really went on a run to put us on our heels. I think obviously a very well-coached team and a skilled team, you expect that to happen.

"Just the courage for us to fight back and find that grit to fight through that and come out on top is a really, really huge win for these girls and our program."