Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – The shoe was on the other foot for the MacEwan Griffins men's basketball team on Saturday night.
A day after pulling away from Regina and hanging on as the Cougars mounted a furious comeback attempt that fell short, the Griffins were the ones doing the chasing.
Keith Gerdes' Hail Mary attempt at the buzzer went long as the Cougars hung on for an 88-85 win at the City Centre Campus gym to earn a split out of their Edmonton road trip.
"This league, the parity is so great," said Regina head coach Steve Burrows, whose squad moves to 2-2 in the Canada West standings. "Two pretty even teams and those (matches) are decided by a break here and a break there. It was today and it was last night.
"The difference in this league is a fine line."
The game was neck and neck all the way through, but Regina broke it open in the third quarter, depositing 32 of their points in that frame. Almost half of those (15) were from hot-shooting Aaron McGowan, who dropped a game-high 27 on the night – including going 5 of 8 from the three-point line – before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
"We got away from the things we do well, particularly defensively," said MacEwan head coach Eric Magdanz of the third quarter. "Credit to them. They made some shots. We didn't play our level of intense defence and challenge their shooters and take care of the small details as well as we have the rest of the weekend."
Alex Igual scored 22 and added seven rebounds for Regina, while Brandon Tull chipped in 13 points, three steals, seven assists and seven boards.
"Mac (McGowan) got it going a little bit," said Burrows of their third-quarter offensive charge. "He's definitely capable. And we got going a bit from the three point line. Everything's keyed off our defence and we got some stops in the third quarter, which allowed us to get on a run and get some easy baskets that way. That obviously helps you."
Led by Thomas Jereniuk, who bucketed nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, the Griffins mounted a furious late comeback attempt. Regina's lead, which had stretched to 15 early in the fourth, dwindled to just three after the fifth-year guard dropped one from the corner with just over two minutes left.
MacEwan got within one (86-85) with eight seconds left when Denzel James sped down the lane and touched it off the glass and in. But just when it seemed like the home team might take over, the ball bounced the wrong way for MacEwan.
Gerdes was assessed a technical for fouling Brian Ofori too hard. Though he missed two of three free throws, Regina got the possession back as a result. Johneil Johnson was fouled and he missed both, but the ensuing fight for the rebound led to a jump ball, giving Regina the possession back. Johnson was fouled again and made just one, leaving Gerdes to attempt a three-quarter court buzzer-beater.
"Sometimes things just don't go your way and sometimes the ball doesn't bounce in your favour," said Magdanz, whose team is now 1-3 on the season. "That's what kind of happened tonight. We've got things we've got to improve on as a team and we're going to focus on that."
Thadius Galvez led MacEwan with 22 points, while James posted a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, adding three blocks and five assists.
Magdanz was really pleased with his depth scoring in the contest, though.
"We had different guys step up tonight. I was very happy about that," he said. "I thought Harrison Lane took the place of Ryan Coleman tonight (scoring seven). Thomas Jereniuk had a great game for us today and had some big buckets down the stretch to put us within reach.
"Denzel and Thad and Keith (who had 10 points) are our three guys who show up every night and they were good again. There are a ton of positives to take forward from this game."
MacEwan will host Victoria (1-2, prior to Saturday) Nov. 18-19, while Regina gets a weekend off before travelling to Trinity Western (2-1, prior to Saturday) Nov. 25-26.