Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Amid a scrappy, rugged, uncut diamond in the rough kind of basketball game, Mackenzie Farmer found a way to deliver a silky-smooth strike from behind the arc with mere seconds left on Friday.
The kind you would want to frame.
After that, the horn sounded in traffic under the Griffins' hoop as MacEwan hung on for a 53-49 victory over the visiting Mount Royal University Cougars to push their record to 4-9.
MRU is left still searching for their first win of the Canada West women's basketball season, falling to 0-13.
"If I were to think about the shot more, it probably would not have gone in," admitted the freshman Farmer, who led the Griffins with 12 points. "I think just knowing I've hit the shot before and knowing I can hit the shot (helped)."
Her three came on the heels of another clutch MacEwan trey as Kristen Monfort-Palomino scored with 45 seconds left. But MRU's Michelle Tiffany answered right back 15 seconds later to get the Cougars within one. They would get no more.
"I thought we really struggled to find a rhythm all night at the offensive end and sometimes it just comes down to players making plays," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams, whose team shot just 31.8 per cent from the field as nothing came easy.
"We had two kids step up when we needed it and hit shots. Sometimes that's what you need to happen when you're having a difficult time getting into a flow and finding what it is you're trying to get."
MRU head coach Nathan McKibbon only needed to point at the stats in explaining what happened to their fortunes.
Only 24.4 per cent shooting from the field. Just 8-for-16 from the free-throw line.
"We played a little bit better in the fourth quarter, but you're not going to win many games when you score 16 in the middle two," said McKibbon, who was decked out in some snazzy pink converse kicks in honour of Shoot for the Cure, a special night MacEwan and the rest of U SPORTS were hosting to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. "You're not going to win many games when you shoot 25 per cent from the field.
"I thought we had opportunities. I think our defence caused turnovers. I thought we did a decent job of getting to the offensive glass. We just didn't make enough of our opportunities."
The Cougars did win the turnover battle (23-20) and had the Griffins' offence out of sync for most of the contest, particularly in blanking them for nearly seven minutes to open the second quarter.
"They're a scrappy, tough defensive team," said Adams. "They have to play that way to try and generate more offensive possessions for themselves. We just panicked under pressure a little bit and turned the ball over at inconvenient times. It put them in positions to be able to score.
"We held them to 49, which is – on any given night to hold a team under 50 points is pretty good. But we still gave them way too many opportunities."
Both Kayla Ivicak (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Paige Knull (10 points, 10 rebounds) hit double-doubles for the Griffins, while the former's night also included five assists and three steals.
MRU was led by a game-high 22 points and near double-double (nine rebounds) from Gala Mestres, who added three assists and three steals. Tiffany bucketed 11, while Abby Gillette had a game-high two blocks.
Both teams will be looking to make adjustments for Saturday's rematch (5 p.m., Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV).
"Honestly, we're going to have to come to shoot, we're going to have to be focused, we're going to have to get shots," said McKibbon. "We'll make a couple of technical changes and we have to build on that last quarter, make sure we're able to score the ball tomorrow."
The Griffins will also be looking for changes, particularly anything that can kick their offence into a higher gear.
"I think our discipline and execution at the offensive end probably first and foremost," said Adams. "They're going to make some adjustments, so we'll have to be prepared to look at something else as well."