Jason Hills, For MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Much like the weather in Alberta's capital, the MacEwan Griffins' shooting has gone really cold within a one-week span.
One week after a blowout loss to Winnipeg, which saw the young hoops squad shoot just 23%, their shooting went ice cold again.
The Griffins shot a slightly better 24.6% from the field, but for a second week in a row their offence was frozen solid in a 58-41 loss to University of Fraser Valley Cascades, Friday night at the David Atkinson gymnasium.
MacEwan drops to 1-6, while UFV improves to 3-4 in the early stages of the Canada West season.
"It seems to be a common story that we're having a difficult time putting the ball in the hook. It's not that we're not getting good looks, we're just not finishing. We rush and panic and throw it off the glass," said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams.
"Our start really put us in a hole. It's always tough when you're playing from behind. In the first quarter we were down 12, and no team is going to lay down and let you back in it."
Veteran power forward Taylor Claggett was an absolute menace for the Cascades leading UFV with 17 points, 18 rebounds and three steals, while guard Kate Head posted 16 points, two assists, two rebounds and two steals in the victory.
Shannon Majeau led MacEwan with eight points and six rebounds in the loss. Kristen Monfort-Palomino scored seven, while Hannah Gibb and Mady Chamberlin chipped in with six points each off the bench.
UFV made things tough right from the opening tip off for MacEwan.
"Defence hasn't been a big issue for us this year. Clearly in the first half we did a really good job of that. We forced a lot of tough shots and it was a real positive for us tonight," said Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer.
"We got the jump early, and we played the way we wanted to play. We're having difficulty scoring at times, and we'd like to make a few more shots, but thankfully it was enough to get the job done."
MacEwan trailed 19-7 in the first quarter as Claggett made an impact right away. She scored eight points in the opening 10 minutes and made some key defensive plays to help get her teammates involved offensively.
But not only was Claggett tough to handle, Hand stepped up with 16 points and was key contributor — particularly in the first half.
"Taylor was Taylor, she does so much for us. A key for us was Kate Head, she came alive tonight. She really led us in the first half and that's good to see. A real positive sign," said Tuchscherer.
"Katherine has a really good young team, they just have to mature. Last week they played well and stole one from Winnipeg and it could happen again tomorrow, so we'll have to respond and be ready."
Defensively, the Griffins showed positive signs. They forced UFV to make 23 turnovers, but they just couldn't find a way to capitalize on the mistakes the Cascades made.
Another strong sign was their bench players stepped up playing some key minutes, which will certainly pay dividends as this team grows and develops moving forward.
"I thought our bench came in the second half and gave us a little spark and generated a little energy in a tough game and we hope we can build off that," said Adams.
MacEwan's poor shooting display the last couple weeks even carried over to the free throw line against UFV.
The Griffins only got to the charity stripe four times in the first half and didn't covert one free throw.
MacEwan made their first free throw with eight minutes left in the game. They finished 3-for-10 from the line.
"It was a frustrating game, but we're a young team and we still have a lot to learn. After the game, I just told the team we need to get back to the basics," said Adams.
"It's a sign of maturity. We work so hard to get there and we don't make them pay at the free throw line and this is a clear sign that we're not there yet."
Both teams will play the second-game of their weekend series Saturday night at the David Atkinson Gym. Tip-off is 5 p.m.