Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON — The MacEwan Griffins threw a scare into the No. 1-ranked team in the country before their shooting fell apart and their intensity waned as the Regina Cougars cruised to a 75-52 win at City Centre Campus on Friday night.
With a combination of determined defence and great shooting from a variety of players, the Griffins jumped out to a 14-4 lead and held a 21-14 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
"I think we just came out to compete today," said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams, whose squad falls to 1-2 on their Canada West campaign with the loss. "We were battling, we were physical, we were crashing the glass, we were physical.
"Regina's the number one team in the country and there's probably a lot to be intimidated by that, but our girls had no fear. We've got nothing to lose. They came out and competed."
In the second quarter, Regina turned the game by unleashing a fierce inside presence that not only turned the Griffins one-dimensional on offence, it allowed the top-ranked team in the nation to get rolling offensively. Regina's 6-foot-3 Angela Bongomin caused all sorts of havoc, while Ainsley MacIntyre also became unstoppable under the hoop, en route to a team-high nine boards on the evening.
Cougars coach Dave Taylor noted it was when his squad decided to match MacEwan's intensity that they were able to fight back and take their first lead of the game at 26-24. Regina led 38-33 at the half.
"We knew what they were going to do and give them credit," said Taylor, whose team remains perfect on the season at 3-0. "It's well known MacEwan is going to play hard. They're on their third coach in three years and every time they play hard.
"If you're not prepared to meet that, you're going to get knocked down. Credit to them. If you're not prepared for that type of game from them, you're going to be in trouble."
Even though Regina lost leading scorer Charlotte Kot to an injury late in the first half, they actually got stronger, showing off the variety of ways they can win a game.
In the third quarter, that was speed. They mixed in some fast break points, particularly great flash by guard Avery Pearce, who finished with 11 points, and Katie Polischuk, who led the team with 23 off 6-for-12 three-point shooting.
MacEwan hit back with defensive buzzsaw Juhee Thompson and Kendall Lydon, who upped the energy and found success at the free throw line
But Regina took a 10-point lead into the fourth when Christina McCusker hit a layup at the buzzer.
"We know what Regina does well and we just let it get away from us a little bit," said Adams. "The first half I thought we did a good job taking that away. In the second half, it was too many missed assignments."
MacEwan's strong defensive effort fell apart in the fourth quarter, giving Regina too many open looks. As the Griffins' shooting went stone cold – Paige Knull scored their first points of the quarter with 4:03 left – Regina pulled away to win handily.
"I'm happy with how we played at the end, but I think it was a byproduct of not being very happy with how we started the game," said Taylor.
Knull led the Griffins with 14 points and four rebounds, while Lydon's multi-stat line included five steals, 11 points and three rebounds.
The teams will meet again on Saturday night (5 p.m., City Centre Campus).
"Again, No. 1 team in the country – there's nothing we can do but learn from it and come out prepared to battle again tomorrow," said Adams.