Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Lethbridge Pronghorns guard DeJon Burdeaux shot a ridiculous 12-for-14 from the field in racking up 33 points to lead his team to a 101-82 victory over the MacEwan Griffins in Canada West men's basketball action on Friday night.
The fifth-year product of Oakland, Calif., drained a jumper to kick off a 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter as the Pronghorns snuffed out a valiant comeback attempt by the home side and improved to a perfect 3-0 on the season.
"He's always been a special talent," said Lethbridge head coach Mike Hansen. "Honestly, I feel like he's one of the best guards in the country. We really feed off of everything he does. We've built this team around him a little bit."
Burdeaux also led his team with eight rebounds and had a game-high four steals, while Saren Westrop chipped in 15 points and Zac Overwater had 13 for the Pronghorns, who began to take over the game in the second-quarter.
Completing a 10-2 run, they opened up a 12-point lead with just under four minutes left in the half and skated into the break up 46-34.
Five-straight points from Burdeaux to open the second half put the Pronghorns up by 20.
But the Griffins used a pair of key steals to build a 10-0 run and then rode a wave of momentum created by the hot shooting of first-year wing Lincoln Anderson to get within three. Coming off the bench, the Cardston, AB product ignited the Griffins' offence with 22 points in just 17 minutes, going 4-for-8 from behind the arc.
"It's a really big bounce-back weekend for him," said Griffins head coach Eric Magdanz. "I think it was special for him getting to play against Lethbridge, a team where he's from. He shot the ball really well for us tonight and he competed hard. It's something he's been working on all preseason to kind of work on the finer details of it and he kind of showed off those things tonight."
But just when it looked as if the Griffins were rallying to win, Lethbridge turned on the jets and left them in the dust.
"I think the biggest thing was we didn't panic," said Hansen of closing out the win with a 26-14 fourth-quarter advantage. "We just kept on repeating to guys what we need to do. When you're an up-tempo team like we are, I think there's a tendency sometimes to get caught up with our offence and not understanding it's our defence that generates those opportunities.
"We just put in a couple of guys and told them to settle down and stay in front of the ball. That's all we had to do. We got three stops in a row, had a nice little run, got it back up to double figures. That was kind of it."
The Griffins just ran out of gas.
"I think we just kind of lost our wind a little bit," said Magdanz. "We shortened the bench and I think it may have caught up with us a little bit. To their credit, they bounced back and found ways to score and keep testing us. That's something we'll learn from tonight."
Ali Raza had a hard-fought double-double for the Griffins with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Deonte Doslov-Doctor had 11 points and three steals, while Jake Notice added 11 points and six boards and Ryan Colman had 10 points.
For the second-straight game, the Griffins got balanced scoring with five players in double digits and had spurts of really good defence, so there are takeaways from the defeat.
"Defence is something we want to pride ourselves on, but it's something we're still learning," said Magdanz. "As we grow with this, I think it's really something we can tip our hat to."
And somehow, they will have to find a way to slow down Burdeaux in Saturday's rematch (3 p.m., Atkinson Gym).
"He is a phenomenal player. That's always a challenge," said Magdanz. "It's a challenge every week because you seem to run into those guys in Canada West all over the place. It's a team effort. You can't put that responsibility on a sole person. You have to make a game plan as a team and execute. For us, that's ensuring our help side is loaded and making sure that we have support around the person who's guarding the ball."