EDMONTON, AB - The UBC Okanagan women’s basketball team fell to the Grant MacEwan Griffins on Saturday night by a final score of 72-66. The game was close going into the final minute, with the Huskies pulling ahead 67-66 with 1:04 remaining, but a late turnover by the Heat with 23 seconds left combined with MacEwan success at the free throw line to seal it for the home side.
The Heat were the better shooters from the field (42.4% - 40.7%) and from three-point range (54.5% - 47.6%) on Saturday night, but the Griffins’ consistency at the free throw line (77.8% - 62.5%) made all the difference. MacEwan also had better rebounds (41-32) and assists (21-16) numbers, while the Heat made only 17 turnovers to the Griffins’ 25. In the loss, the Heat were able to hold the edge in points in the paint (12-4) and in points from their bench (16-13).
The game was really decided in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, when the Griffins were able to capitalize on their rare form from the free-throw line to cement the win.
The Heat scored the first four baskets of the final quarter, courtesy of Vanessa Botteselle and Emily Kanester, to take the lead back at 56-54 with 7:12 left to play. A made free throw by Kanester and a three-pointer from Claire Elliott then put UBCO up 60-56 just past the halfway point, with 4:54 remaining. MacEwan answered quickly with a pair of three-pointers of their own, tying it up 62-62 with 3:47 left. A pair of lead changes later, the Griffins were back ahead 67-66 with 1:04 to go. From that point on, they were able to shut down the Okanagan shooters, and going to the free-throw line were able to make five of six to earn a final score of 72-66.
Individually it was Kendall Lydon who had the biggest impact in the game, scoring a game-high 34 points for the Griffins, averaging a point per minute she was on the floor. Behind her for MacEwan in scoring was Paige Knull, who finished with 12 points.
Claire Elliott was the Heat’s leading scorer, finishing with 14 points, followed by Emily Kanester (11), Chloe Kennedy (11) and Vanessa Botteselle (10). Jordan Korol led the Heat in rebounds, finishing with seven.
The first quarter ended with the Heat ahead 18-15 after shooting 40% from the field and 100% from the charity stripe through the first ten minutes of play. The second saw MacEwan able to take a 34-33 lead into half-time, after outscoring the Heat 19-15 in the frame. Elliott scored eight of her team-high 14 in the second quarter, but it wasn’t enough to maintain the Heat lead going into the break.
The biggest quarter for either team came in the third, when the Griffins were able to score 20 in a frame for the only time on the night. Lydon scored 14 of her game-high 34 in the third quarter, as her team shot 50% from the field, 50% from three-point range, and 100% from the free-throw line. The Heat also made 50% from beyond the arc, but Lydon’s scoring was dominant enough to give MacEwan a 54-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (3-15) will play their final games of the Canada West season next weekend in Kelowna against the UFV Cascades (11-7). The Grant MacEwan Griffins (6-12) will play their final games next Friday and Saturday as well, when they take on the Calgary Dinos (10-8) in Calgary.
Saturday night at UBC Okanagan will be senior night and four players: Claire Elliott, Olivia Johnson, Chloe Kennedy, and Emily Kanester will be celebrated for their career as those four will eith graduate or have used their eligibility after this season.
~ Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan