Kilbreath breaks program record with 39 points in Griffins' loss to Bobcats

Noelle Kilbreath scored 39 of MacEwan's 62 points, breaking the program record for the most by a Griffin in a Canada West game (Jefferson Hagen photo).
Noelle Kilbreath scored 39 of MacEwan's 62 points, breaking the program record for the most by a Griffin in a Canada West game (Jefferson Hagen photo).

Jason Hills
For MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON — After the final buzzer on Sunday, MacEwan Griffins guard Noelle Kilbreath was surrounded by her coaches and got emotional.

It had nothing to do with the final score against the Brandon Bobcats.

She had just broken the program record for points in a single game after a 39-point effort in a 96-62 loss, and she couldn't help but shed a few tears after everything she's been through in her career, coming back from a serious injury that ended her season last year.

Kilbreath's 39-point performance is tied for the 13th most in a Canada West regular season game and breaks the previous Griffins' program record of 34, shared by Megan Wood (2014) and Kendall Lydon (2017). Her performance also comes on the heels of a 26-point effort on Saturday – including hitting the game-winning three-pointer with 9.3 seconds left – in MacEwan's 68-63 win over Brandon.

"I couldn't be happier for her," said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams. "The past year has certainly had some ups and downs for her, and getting back to playing to the level that she is, has been so impressive. 

"We're so lucky that she's part of our team, and I'm so proud of her performance today, I just wish we could've stepped up around her to be able to celebrate and feel the joy of that performance a little bit more."

Kilbreath scored 26 points of the team's 34 points in the first half, as the Griffins trailed 45-34.

She scored in a variety of different ways to break the record, finishing 13-of-22 from the field and 10-for-11 at the free throw line.

She tied the record with a third-quarter free throw and broke it early in the fourth quarter on her first of two free throws.

Kilbreath had no idea she had broken the program record until after the final whistle blew and was notified by the coaches.

"I'm very much a play-by-play type of person. I knew I scored a lot today, but I didn't know how much. I had literally no idea," said Kilbreath.

"Today, I had a lot of opportunities to score, and it was my teammates finding me on the floor and me getting aggressive and not being afraid to shoot it when I was open."

MacEwan looked like they were well on their way to a second-straight victory on Sunday after jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but then they went ice-cold at the offensive end, and Brandon woke up in a big way.

The Bobcats went on a 20-2 run to finish out the first quarter and then continued to pour it on, leading 45-34 at halftime.

Piper Ingalls led Brandon with 27 points and was 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, while Faith Clearsky recorded 20 points and six rebounds and was a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point land.

Brandon really blew it open in the second half, leading 77-49 after three quarters, and midway through the fourth quarter led 90-57.

The victory was the first of the season for the Bobcats as they improved to 1-13, while MacEwan fell to 1-11.

Brandon shot 60% (15-of-25) from the three-point line in the win.

"It's wild to shoot 60% (15-of-25) from three. It's wildly impressive. It didn't seem to matter who or where they were shooting from, they seemed to drop," said Adams.

"That's how momentum works. You see a few drop, and suddenly you have the courage to shoot some that you normally wouldn't. When you're on that side of it, it's a lot of fun to play that way, less fun when you're on this side of it."

Adams and the Griffins can take away a lot from this weekend. They came up big with the score tight late in the fourth quarter to earn their first win on Saturday, to gain some valuable experience in that regard, but they can also learn from this loss to Brandon on Sunday.

"Today, Brandon competed hard, and they had a lot of players step up big time today. They had some players that don't necessarily start for them and may not be at the top of your scouting report, but they came in and did some big things and we can learn a lot from that," said Adams.

"You don't have to be a starter of a fourth-year veteran to do things. Come in and do what you do well, and you can be the jump your team needs to get your team on a roll, and they did a very good job of that today and rolled with it as the game continued."

MacEwan will return to home court next weekend when they host the Lethbridge Pronghorns on Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday (5 p.m., both David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV).