EDMONTON – The Trinity Western Spartans used a balanced scoring attack, with five players in double digits, to defeat the MacEwan Griffins 97-88 Friday night in Edmonton.
Josiah Allison lead the Spartans with 17 points, while Pogos Trunyan and Tee Maberry each had 16. Vartan Tanielian and Josiah Meppelink added 13 points each as the Spartans shot more than five per cent better than their season average.
"We just hit shots," said Muhic. "The game's easier when the ball goes in. It's kind of been a challenge for us as a team. When the ball doesn't go in, who are we? We kind of need to make our stamp on defence. We're starting to figure that out. We have one game left."
The Griffins were gracious hosts on Friday with soft defence and were not only powerless to stop the three-pointer, but even when they did force the Spartans into exploring other options, they were out-battled down low for easy buckets.
At times the game turned into a track meet and they were the guys choking on dust.
"It's disappointing from our end," said MacEwan head coach Eric Magdanz after his squad fell to 4-15 in a building season. "We talked about their strengths all week and a main one of those is how great of shooters that they have on the team.
"I thought we did a very poor job executing on close-outs and communicating in transition, which gave them open shots. That's the skill-set that they have to beat teams."
Leading 46-44 at the half, TWU really made their mark in the third quarter, outscoring the Griffins by 10 points and taking over the game.
"In the second half, our guys clamped down and we started playing some really good defence, which I thought was pretty key to the game," said Muhic. "Their point guard is tough. He's quick and it's tough to keep him out of the paint. I thought he did a good job but probably got a little tired."
That would be Adonis Monfort-Palomino, who led the Griffins with 20 points in 26 minutes of play. Graduating senior Ryan Coleman added 13 points and seven rebounds in his second-last game as a Griffin.
"I think we had two guys that we can really hang our hats on tonight and that's Adonis and Ryan Coleman," said Magdanz. "Both of them came out and played hard, played aggressive, played smart and they really gave us a chance to stay connected throughout the tougher parts of the game for us. But we just didn't have enough people rallying around them."
Not only that, the Griffins suffered through perhaps their most lackluster defensive performance of the season.
"I think, generally, our overall effort was disappointing," said Magdanz. "We didn't bring energy, we didn't bring effort, we didn't bring communication.
"Then, we waited far too late in the game to try and make a run. I give huge credit to my bench. They sat in there and waited their turn, and came and played very hard. We'll see if some of our other players can learn off of them."
As TWU was enjoying an 18-point lead with 3:47 left, Magdanz made a full line change, sitting every starter. What happened was a head-turning rally on the backs of Liban Yousef, Abdullah Shittu, Tre Ross, Atlas St. Paul-Butler and Dustin Gatzki. MacEwan fought back within seven with 1:16 left before the foul game added another 15 minutes of real time to the contest and didn't work in their favour.
"I was very impressed," said Magdanz of his bench after not making any effort to bring starters back when the lead shrunk to single digits. "They've waited their turn, they're practiced hard, they've put in their time.
"If they're going to play with that level of energy and effort they're going to take minutes away from some of our other players."
TWU Head Coach Aaron Muhic
"I thought we played a really good second-half defensively. The first half we scored the ball but we were unable to get the stops that we wanted. In the second half we really buckled down and were able to shut down some of their scorers. I thought Josiah Allison and Josiah Meppelink were really big for us off the bench it's always nice when you can get five guys scoring in double digits. We also shot the ball very well from the three. I know that McEwan will come out tomorrow night ready to compete, I'm hoping that we can rise to the occasion."
- Pogos Trunyan, who was 3-13 tonight, is one made three-pointer away from setting the Spartans single season record. He currently has 65 makes, which he finished with last year to tie the record held by Louis Hurd (08-09).
- TWU's 97 points, is the most scored by the Spartans since a 97-84 win over Winnipeg on Feb. 7, 2015.
- TWU finished the night shooting 37.5 percent, 12-32, from behind the 3-point line.
Final game of Canada West conference play. TWU and MacEwan match up at 7 p.m. MST. Game will be broadcast live on Canadawest.tv.