November 20, 2006
By JEFF KORENKO
In beating the team with the most wins in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Friday night, then pushing them to the final buzzer Saturday
afternoon at the college gym, the Wolves also learned they have some work ahead of them.
Battling back all afternoon despite the fact they were not as sharp as they were the night before, the Wolves dropped a 69-66 decision to the visiting Grant MacEwan Griffins as guard Melanie Patterson had her last-second, game-tying attempt at a three-pointer from the left side bound off the outside of the rim.
The fact the Wolves even had a chance to tie the game was a testament to the gumption they displayed. Not only did they claw their way back from a 52-43 deficit after three quarters by outscoring the Griffins 23-17 in the final 10 minutes, the Wolves also erased a 24-13 first-quarter Grant MacEwan advantage by dominating them to the tune of 21-8 in the second to lead 34-32 at the break.
However, too many stretches of sloppy and inconsistent play proved to be their undoing Saturday, as the Griffins took control of the contest with a 20-9 run through the third period.
"We just didn't play with the same energy in the third quarter (Saturday) that we played with (Friday)," said head coach Mark Catling. "Throughout the whole game we just weren't in it mentally for long stretches where we should have been."
The Wolves, who saw their record in the North Division fall to 7-3 with the loss, still managed to stay within striking distance of the Griffins by
earning a split in the pair of weekend games, as they won 78-71 Friday night.
Grant MacEwan improved to a conference-best 10-2 with the win Saturday, good for a four-point lead over the Concordia University College Thunder (8-2). The Wolves sit third in the North Division.
Good on only 7-of-18 tries from the floor, Wolves forward Jen Seemann nonetheless led all scorers with 22 points. She spearheaded the near
comeback in the fourth by connecting for four successive lay-ins to draw the Wolves to within a single point at 60-59 with 1:57 to go, but the Griffins responded by scoring nine points of their own down the stretch to fend off the home side.
Guard Jaelle Duinker added 15 points, including nailing a trio of three-pointers for the Wolves, while Melanie Patterson and Lisa Deneault
chipped in with eight points apiece.
Despite the loss, Catling had plenty of reason to exude optimism, given his side showed plenty of flashes of brilliance on the weekend and managed to take a game from the conference's top team.
"We are really competitive right now. The girls are playing with a lot of confidence and they believe in what we are doing. I think we opened up a few eyes this weekend and hopefully, we opened up our own eyes. We are a pretty good team and when we play smart we can beat anybody," he said.
"(Friday) we held onto the ball and made some good decisions in key situations that you have to make at this level. (Saturday) we didn't have
that same decision-making, but overall we played pretty good," said Catling.
Friday's win came about as the Wolves - led by Duinker's 16 - had four players hit for double digits. Erica Rude, who went a perfect 7-for-7 in field goals, followed with 15, while Seemann and Deneault each had 12.
"That was one of the big keys we talked about right from the beginning (of the weekend) was that we were never going to give up and we played 40 minutes right to the end," said Catling.
"Basketball is a game of runs. If you can put on a good run at some point, you are always alive and we answered the bell a lot of times."
The Wolves made 64 per cent of their free throws Friday night. Outscoring the Griffins 49-33 in the second half, they hit on 21-of-35 (60 per cent) field-goal attempts.
Claire Wilson led the Griffins with 14 points and Leanne Theuss had 12.