Griffins split with Vikings
The MacEwan University men’s basketball team tipped off the start of their regular season last weekend, beating the Augustana Vikings on Friday night by a score of 76-47 in Camrose and losing 60-57 in the rematch on Saturday at MacEwan’s City Centre Campus gym.
On Friday the Griffins didn’t have the start they imagined but were still in the lead going into the half, 33-31.
“The first half we didn’t come out and play very well defensively and only had a two point lead going into the half. We regrouped though and played our game in the second half,” said Griffins’ head coach Peter Guarasci.
The Griffins would however explode in the second half of action on Friday, outscoring Augustana 43-16 in the second half.
“We changed our focus a little bit defensively and that helped improve our transition game. With our team we’re pretty fast, we’re really guard oriented, we need to get our stops defensively by playing good in all four quarters of the court, get the rebounds and then sprint to our offensive positions. When we play good [defense] we play our best,” noted Guarasci.
The Griffins would host Augustana on Saturday for their home opener, but were not able to translate the success they had the previous night, being down 36-27 heading into the locker room.
The third quarter would not be any kinder to the Griffins as they found themselves down 48-35 with one quarter remaining. The biggest struggle the Griffins faced all night was their shooting from the three-point line, going 12.5 per cent compared to the Vikings shooting 27.3 per cent from beyond the arch.
“We need to focus on proper spacing offensively and that will help our decision-making. When we get away from playing our game we tend to get in trouble,” said Guarasci.
The fourth quarter finally saw the Griffins get back to playing ‘their game’, outscoring Augustana 22-12. The Griffins would get the game within two points with under a minute left; however, Griffin and Latvian-native Janis Assers was forced to commit his fifth foul of the game which led to the Vikings notching a free-throw and extending their lead by three points with under 20 seconds remaining.
“Janis is an incredible guy, a great addition to our team, everybody loves him. He has the potential to really make a difference on our team this year. We’re just trying to help him focus on his strengths, rebound control, focusing on making shots down low. Our team is a work in progress but we’re doing a good job of moving forward and I’m quite pleased seeing that,” said Guarasci.
The Griffins would have 15 seconds left to drain a three-pointer; unfortunately they would not be able to convert, the game ending in a 60-57 loss.
Griffins’ Stephen Oliver-Job and rookie Shaquille Bedminster led the team with 15 points each; Brett Kallio also had a strong performance with eight points and seven rebounds.
Shaquille Bedminster would get the Hudson’s Player of the Game honours, yet despite the great play, the rookie from Hamilton, Ontario couldn’t help but be disappointed with the loss.
“It was a tough loss. I was just trying to play smart, take the right shots, manage the ball properly with such little time left on the clock,” said a disheartened Bedminster.
Other notable Griffins performances included Mitch Lonsberry with four steals and Ryan May who wrangled in two offensive rebounds and six defensive rebounds.
The Griffins will return to action this weekend, playing Grande Prairie twice at the City Centre Campus gym, on Friday at 8pm and again on Saturday at 3pm.
(Story by Kris Kinash)