Cold shooting obscures solid defensive effort in Griffins' 64-34 loss to Lethbridge

Toki Tsuzuki led the Griffins with 11 points on Friday (Gerard Murray photo).
Toki Tsuzuki led the Griffins with 11 points on Friday (Gerard Murray photo).

Jason Hills 
For MacEwan Athletics 
EDMONTON – It must have felt like the hoop had a lid covering the rim, and a giant padlock sealing it shut, because it was one tough night shooting for the MacEwan Griffins. 

Defensively, the Griffins held their own against the Lethbridge Pronghorns, but they simply couldn't buy a bucket, shooting just 15.1% (8-for-53) in a 64-34 loss on Friday night at the David Atkinson Gym. 

Toki Tsuzuki led MacEwan with 11 points, while Unity Obasuyi recorded seven points in the loss. 

Kyra Collier scored nine points and 12 rebounds and Lethbridge spread out the scoring with Vlada Hozalova scoring nine, while three others scored eight points in the win as the Pronghorns improved to 11-4, while MacEwan dropped to 1-12 this season. 

"Sometimes I think there are magnets on the interior of the rim, and they just reject the ball, and it feels like we've been getting rejected by the rim all season, and I don't know what it is. It makes you feel powerless at times," said Griffins forward Sarah Burnell

"We're capable of scoring, but I don't know what happens in the game where we just can't seem to put it together. I don't know if it comes down to individual confidence, but we need to keep working at it. 

"We can't put it all on Noelle (Kilbreath). She's obviously a skilled scorer, but you can't expect her to score 40 points every game, that's not sustainable. We all need to find ways to step up and bring what we can to the team offensively." 

MacEwan has had their struggles offensively this season, but against Lethbridge, they were ice cold in the first half. 

Tsuzuki hit a three-pointer with 3:13 left in the first quarter, and they didn't make another shot from the field until Julie Dueck hit a jumper 1:29 into the third quarter. They were outscored 12-0 in the second quarter. 

"I think there were times their physicality and their presence disrupted us, and we were passive," said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams. 

"We weren't assertive and weren't attacking and it came down to a one-on-one effort to try and make something happen. We had some good looks, but they didn't drop and then desperation sets in, and you try a little bit too hard." 

As much as the Griffins struggled on the offensive end, they can be commended for their defensive effort. They held the Pronghorns, who have the sixth-best offense in the conference, to just 12 points in the second quarter, and 11 points in the third quarter. 

"I thought that we defended well. I'm happy with our defensive effort for the most part, but it makes it that much harder when you can't find the bottom of the bucket. It was a challenging night in that sense," said Adams. 
"We said offence isn't flowing, we're having a tough time getting connected and we're having a tough time finding rhythm. We held them to 11 and 12 points (in the second and third quarter), and if you're scoring, that gap widens, and it becomes more disheartening." 

MacEwan did a better job in the second half, despite their scoring struggles. They were creating opportunities and getting to the foul line. They finished the game 14-of-23 from the charity stripe, after only getting to the line six times in the first half. 

Obasuyi showed a nice presence in the paint in the fourth quarter, getting to the line at a steady rate, and she knocked down 5-of-7 attempts from the foul line. 

"We just tried to find some different ways to generate shots and create different looks and put some people in some positions to at least get to the free throw line if our shots aren't dropping," said Adams. 

"In the second half, we certainly did a better job of that, but it felt like nothing came easy. Sometimes we'd generate easy shots, and somehow, we made them hard." 

MacEwan and Lethbridge will wrap up their weekend series on Saturday (5 p.m., David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV).