EDMONTON – Down 6-0 before they could blink and behind 17-2 just 4:02 into the contest, the MacEwan Griffins ended up chasing the Alberta Pandas all night long in Canada West women's basketball action.
Frustrated and stymied at every turn, less than two hours later, the Griffins finally succumbed to an 88-54 loss at the David Atkinson Gym.
"They came out firing on all cylinders and hit some shots early, which kind of put us on our heels," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams. "It's never easy to play catch-up when you're playing it right from the get-go.
"It definitely got us on our heels and set the tone for the game moving forward."
With the result, Alberta improves to 9-1, while MacEwan falls to 2-8.
The rare Wednesday night contest was a makeup game from Jan. 15 when the Griffins were unable to play due to having only seven healthy players – one less than the Canada West requirement.
MacEwan rotated between nine players on Wednesday, but weren't able to find the top-end game they had when they knocked off Calgary four days earlier.
Right from the opening tip, the Pandas looked like the hungrier team, perhaps eager to atone for losing to 3-9 Mount Royal University last Saturday.
They bottled up the paint with their bigs, leading to multiple opportunities in transition. Defensively, they never really allowed the Griffins to find their rhythm, as MacEwan got stagnant with their ball movement, often settling for ill-advised lane drives into a wall of players.
"I thought we actually battled hard and did a decent job again mismatched defending their bigs inside, but sometimes on our end, just our shot selection (wasn't there)," said Adams. "And when you don't make shots, it's way easier for the other team to grab the ball and go and push in transition.
"Our defensive transition was something that wasn't at its best tonight and there's a lot of factors that play into that. It's something we'll take a closer look at and hopefully be better prepared this weekend."
Hayley Lalor drives up court against the Pandas. She finished with eight points, second-best on the Griffins (Eduardo Perez photo).
Emma Kary led the Pandas with 17 points off 77.8 shooting from the field, while Brianna Fehr chipped in 13, Jayden Tanner had 12 and all 12 players wearing Evergreen and Gold scored at least one basket.
MacEwan was led by Mackenzie Farmer, who did most of the damage for the home side, dropping in a game-high 23 points, often fighting through double teams to do so. Hayley Lalor added eight points and a game-high four steals.
"The more we get into the season, the more teams are going to key in on her, seeing some of her past performances and I thought she did an excellent job tonight adjusting to their physicality and the double teams that came, and found a way to get it done," said Adams. "Kudos to her to have the maturity to make adjustments early and still finding a way to generate scores for herself."
MacEwan will need to regroup quickly as they host Lethbridge (6-4) on Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (5 p.m., both David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).
Alberta, meanwhile, heads into a bye weekend before next returning to action against MacEwan again on Feb. 11-12 at the Saville Centre.