Rookie Kilbreath ignites Griffins, while big defensive effort secures victory over WolfPack

Noelle Kilbreath knocks down a three-pointer with TRU's Megan Rouault in her face on Saturday night (Eduardo Perez photo).
Noelle Kilbreath knocks down a three-pointer with TRU's Megan Rouault in her face on Saturday night (Eduardo Perez photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Catching fire offensively off a second quarter spark from rookie Noelle Kilbreath, the MacEwan Griffins rolled to a 65-52 victory over the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack on Shoot for the Cure night at the David Atkinson Gym Saturday night.

With the result, the Griffins salvage a weekend split with the WolfPack and improve their Canada West women's basketball record to 2-4. TRU falls to 4-2.

Kilbreath came off the bench to score 10 of her co-team high 13 points in the second quarter and was just the shooter the Griffins needed to flush negative thoughts from their paltry 22.8 per cent field goal percentage in a 59-48 defeat to TRU.

"We know she's capable of that," said head coach Katherine Adams of the rookie Calgary product. "We know the learning curve that comes with being a first year in Canada West is pretty steep and we've been waiting for this moment for her to break through.

"She was awesome. She provided a big spark and really energized our bench."

Mackenzie Farmer also scored 13 for the Griffins and had 10 rebounds for a double double, while adding three blocks and two steals. Mady Chamberlin also had three blocks to go with five steals, but MacEwan's defensive effort was thorough across the board.

"All the credit for MacEwan," said WolfPack head coach Goran Nogic. "They completely dominated the inside of the game in offence and defence. That was the key. They shot today much better than yesterday and our game was just basically on the outside shooting."

Indeed, the WolfPack were kept on the perimeter for much of the contest. In the first quarter that didn't cost them because they hit five three-pointers and opened up a seven-point lead.

Leilani Carney scored 11 of her game-high 14 points for TRU in the first 10 minutes, adding six assists. Megan Rouault (11 points) and Jordan Wilkinson (10 points) also hit double digits – the majority of those scored from behind the arc.

Not enough ball movement ultimately doomed TRU, though.

"Today we missed what we had yesterday and what MacEwan showed today," said Nogic. "First of all, attitude. If you don't have the right attitude, if you don't have the responsibility that you are a member of the team and you think of yourself – this is a team sport and you can't play three against five."

A huge defensive effort by the Griffins limited WolfPack leading scorer Jordon Haggerty to just two points, while they dominated the paint by outrebounding TRU 48-21.

"That's the defensive team that we know," said Adams. "We've just gotten away from it the last couple of games. It was really good to see our fight again.

"We take pride in our defensive effort and I think it was a catalyst for everything else that happens. We saw today we scored 65 points."

That included shooting 40.4 per cent (and 48.5 from two-point land) – both well above MacEwan's season averages.

"They did a great job moving the ball," said Adams. "We know that's when we're at our best. We create our best advantages off of movement. Thompson Rivers, the first night did a good job of making us stick the ball and tonight it was a huge point of emphasis to push early and move the ball to create those open lanes.

"We did a good job attacking them and I thought we did a great job getting the ball inside to our posts, as well."

TRU returns home to Kamloops, B.C. to host UNBC Nov. 22-23, while MacEwan heads into a bye week and are next in action at Trinity Western on Nov. 29-30.