Learning moments embraced by young Griffins team in home-opener loss to MRU

Toki Tsuzuki tied for the Griffins' scoring lead with nine points against MRU (Eduardo Perez photo).
Toki Tsuzuki tied for the Griffins' scoring lead with nine points against MRU (Eduardo Perez photo).

Jason Hills
For MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – There were a lot of lessons learned for the MacEwan Griffins in their season opening loss to the Mount Royal Cougars.

In a battle of experience against inexperience, the young Griffins showed glimpses against a tough, well-rounded Cougars squad, but fell 76-41, Friday night at the David Atkinson gymnasium.

Noelle Kilbreath led MacEwan with nine points and seven rebounds, while Toki Tsuzuki recorded nine points and four rebounds in the loss for the Griffins, while MRU had four players score in double digits, led by Harriette Mackenzie's double-double (12 points and 11 rebounds).

It was a case of good quarter-bad quarter syndrome for MacEwan. They came out in the opening quarter and took control with an early lead in the first half of the quarter, and were competing with the Cougars, but a 21-0 run by Mount Royal that started early in the second quarter dug a hole too deep for the Griffins to recover from.

"After that, I thought we dug in the third quarter and defended well and generated some decent scoring opportunities, and we limited their scoring," said Girffins head coach Katherine Adams.

"But they're a veteran team and towards the end of the third quarter and in the fourth, they just capitalized on turnovers and every one of our mistakes."

The second quarter was a rough one for MacEwan. Mackenzie Reeve hit a jumper early to cut the Cougars' lead to 22-20, but then the Griffins couldn't buy a bucket or get a stop. Kilbreath hit a mid-range jumper with 38 seconds left to stop the 21-0 run. MacEwan was outscored 23-6 in the second quarter.

"These are all learning opportunities for a lot of our players. They're learning what more experienced teams and veteran players do to compete in this league and we want to get to that standard and that level," said Adams.

Despite getting knocked down in the second quarter, the Griffins didn't back down. They put together a nice passing play that was finished off by Reeve to make it 49-30 for MRU.

Then, a little later Sarah Burnell earned buckets on back-to-back possessions to score four of her eight points and cut the Cougars lead to 54-36.

Sarah Burnell had eight points in her Griffins' debut (Eduardo Perez photo).

"Every moment is a learning opportunity, and we had some really good ones today. We definitely had some moments that we'd like to have back, but we know who we are. We know we're young and there is a lot of growth to happen," said Adams.

"I thought we really stuck with it in the third quarter, and we won the quarter 12-10. It wasn't exactly a score-fest, but we did what we needed to do to be in a competitive game for those 10 minutes."

With such a young team this year, the Griffins will look to build off strong performances, whether that's for an entire game, or a quarter.

The team's third quarter is certainly something they will want to build off of. They can also learn from their tough moments in the second and fourth quarters against MRU.

In the fourth quarter, MRU went on a 10-2 run to start the quarter, and then would go on a 11-1 run to finish the game. 

"We will look back and see what we can take from this, what can we learn and what can we be better at," said Adams.

"For tomorrow, we need to make sure we reduce the errors that they capitalized on, and we have to do a better job rebounding. We gave up 16 offensive rebounds and they outrebounded us by 22."

The teams will meet again on Saturday (2 p.m., David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV). Admission is free as part of MacEwan's Open House celebration.