Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Jumping out to an eight-point first quarter lead, the MacEwan Griffins seemed poised to rebound from a poor opener in their series against cross-town rival Alberta on Saturday afternoon.
Then Mamadou Gueye and Brody Clarke happened.
Using a dominant second quarter where they outscored MacEwan 31-9, the Golden Bears built a 19-point half-time lead and cruised to a 100-78 win at the City Centre Campus gym.
Gueye scored 11 of his game-high 24 points in that second quarter run, while Clarke chipped in seven of his 22 as the Bears improved to a perfect 10-0, atop the Canada West standings, heading into the first semester break.
"We were able to execute and get the ball into Brody," said U of A assistant coach Jon Verhesen of the 6-foot-8 inside force. "We knew Brody was going to have a good game after not playing that well on Thursday. That's what we tried to do.
"They were really hot in the first quarter – luckily they didn't hit as many shots in the second to allow some runouts for us."
The Griffins opened on fire in the first as Thadius Galvez had eight of his team-high 23 points, Denzel James bucketed eight of his 10 points, and Adonis Monfort-Palomino scored seven of his 12. But after that, it was the wheels falling off on the defensive end that doomed MacEwan to another defeat after also losing to the Bears 90-68 on Thursday night.
"It comes down to our defence and it comes down our toughness," said head coach Eric Magdanz, whose team was outrebounded 50-29 in the game, including giving up 16 offensive boards.
"We got ourselves some good shots and we weren't tough enough to finish in the lane. That led to them to getting in transition and put us at a defensive disadvantage.
"It went from there," he added. "The second quarter was a challenge for us, but we didn't win individual matchups, so that puts a ton of pressure on your team defence when you do that. We just couldn't overcome that."
From there, it's tough for any team to chip into a 20-point lead. MacEwan managed to go on a 10-1 run midway through the third quarter, keyed by three-straight Galvez steals. But Alberta hit back with lots of Gueye, who scored 10 of their 25 third-quarter points, and led 81-60 heading home.
MacEwan began to press in the fourth and didn't hit as much as they needed to mount a serious rally.
"I think we tried to increase the number of possessions in the game in the second half," said Magdanz. "We were trying to create more shots and increase the possessions to try to come back from it. I think it worked for us, but we still couldn't get the defensive stops we needed. It increased our offence, but if we can't prevent people from getting to the middle of the key in our one-on-one assignments, then we're going to continue to be in tough positions."
Keith Gerdes chipped in 14 points for the Griffins in the defeat. The Griffins, who enter the break at 3-7 – just shy of a playoff spot – will next head to the University of Fraser Valley on Jan. 6.
Austin Waddoops added 18 and nine rebounds for the Golden Bears, while Geoff Pippus added 14. Next up for the Bears is a home match against Calgary – the No. 3-ranked team in the country – on Jan. 5.
"We knew we had to get the wins when we can against these teams because we have Calgary and UBC back to back," said Verhesen. "They're 2 and 3 in the country and that's no easy task, so just get those wins when you can."