Edmonton, AB–The Mount Royal Cougars eliminated the MacEwan Griffins from the ACAC (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference) playoffs after an 87-70 victory in Calgary at Stanley Gym on Saturday Feb. 26.
This victory earned the Cougars the 2-1 series win. MacEwan Griffins head coach Ryan Dunkley says that the series came down to experience. “It’s pretty disappointing,” said Dunkley. ” But it’s not like we didn’t lose to a good team, not that that makes it any easier.”
“That was a group of four fifth-year players, when you’re in your fifth year you’ve got a lot to play for,” said Dunkley. ” It’s tough to knock off a senior team.”
The Griffins (10-10) were unable to slow down the Cougars (15-3) in the first game of the series on Thursday night as the Cougars cruised to a 89-73 win. Griffins forward Andrew Bates scored a game-high 29 points and came down with a game-high eight rebounds.
Bates led all players in playing time playing 33:55. But Bate’s effort wasn’t enough as the Cougars bench were able to lift Mount Royal to victory, outscoring the Griffins bench 38-2.
“Our bench got dominated.” said Dunkley. “Their bench just killed our bench.” As the series shifted to Grant MacEwan, the Griffins were able to pull away from a neck and neck battle coming away with a slim two-point victory over the Cougars, 78-76.
Bates continued to dominate down-low in the paint pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds while tallying 23 points in the win. Bates led the series in scoring, averaging 22.3 PPG.
Cougars guard Cam Dodd led the way for the Cougars wiaveraging 17 per contest.
As the series shifted back to Calgary on Saturday, the Cougars bench continued to be the story as they were able to out-score the Griffins role players players 28-15. MacEwan failed to cash in on their free-throw attempts, sinking only ten of their 21 attempts for 47.6% on the night; compared to the Cougars who went 17-23 from the line for a 73.9% total.
“That was the game-changer for us, ” said Dunkley. “We were hot in the first half, we could have been up seven to 10 points at half time easily with how well we played offensively.”
It was the third quarter in Saturday nights final game that sunk the MacEwan as the MRU outscored the Griffins 25-7 to help seal the victory. The Griffins trailed by only four at the end of the first half going into the quarter.
“We could have easily been up in a position where now we got some real confidence going into the second half– but they made their run in third quarter and blew it open,” said Dunkley.
Griffins forward Markus Shafer registered a game-high 17 points. Shafer received high praise from his coach on both his offensive and defensive game. “‘Shaf’ (Shafer) was unbelievable,” said Dunkley. “He was amazing on Dodd (Cam) defensively; Shafer really made it difficult on him. It’s nice when you can have one of your best defenders also be one of your best offensive players.”