Trojans hit Wolves early for win
By TERRY FARRELL, Herald-Tribune staff
January 18th, 2011
The game was billed as a possible Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women's basketball championship preview: The national No. 2 SAIT Trojans against the national No. 5 Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves.
The Wolves have some work to do if they want to win the ACAC title.
Not a lot, but some.
Grande Prairie product Taylor Pillsworth scored the first five points of the game for SAIT and the Trojans never trailed in an 81-71 victory.
"That (early attack) was part of the game plan, we wanted to do that and we were fortunate enough to get an early lead," said SAIT coach Donovan Martin.
"That's our game plan every time," said Pillsworth. "We knew we had to come out strong, because we weren't here just to play. We were here to win."
For the first quarter, the Wolves were, to be blunt, too kind to the Trojans. They were allowing SAIT far too easy access to the rebounds, particularly in the GPRC end. The Trojans had more offensive rebounds than the Wolves had defensive boards in the first quarter.
"SAIT's an aggressive team and we just backed away," said Waknuk. "Once we started becoming aggressive good things started happening, but by that time we were already digging out of a hole.
"You look at the last three quarters and we played very well (60-59 SAIT in the final three quarters), but it took a while to become aggressive."
The Trojans had a 21-12 lead after the first quarter and every time the Wolves started to put something together, the Trojans effectively snuffed out the momentum with a timely steal, or a long-range basket.
The Wolves did not have a run of more than four points until the fourth quarter, which they started on an 8-0 run.
We just could never maintain that momentum," said Waknuk. "It felt like at times it was coming, and then there would be a play or two where we would lose it again. But it's just one of those things. You play a good basketball team, that's what happens."
There were some positives for Waknuk. The Wolves outscored the Trojans 39-38 in the second half.
"I am very happy with the second half performance," said Waknuk. "But all credit to them, they made shots that ... well, that's why they are where they are in the standings. They make shots like that."
As much as anything, the difference in the game was the Trojans' outside shooting. They hit 10 three-pointers, including seven in the first half.
"We have about three or four players who are very comfortable doing that and they have all been shooting the ball very well for quite a while now," said Martin.
"We knew we'd be relying on that (outside shooting) a lot, because they have at least three players over six feet tall," said Pillsworth, who got things started with a three-pointer 12 seconds into the game. "We knew our shooting had to be on today. So we just played to our strengths."
Wolves star Andria Carlyon, who leads the ACAC in points, managed 19 points in the game, most of which came in the fourth quarter. The Trojans were on her like mud on an ATV for most of the game, particularly in the first half, where she was held to just four points..
"Obviously if you want to beat Grande Prairie, you'd better do something about her," said Martin. "She's all-world."
"They did a heck of a job on her, for sure," said Waknuk. "But that allowed Martine Deinum to step up and she played really well for us. She is really coming around and I thought that she certainly established herself out there physically and defensively. So we got it from different places, not the usual places, but that's not a bad thing sometimes."
Deinum had a season-high 13 points and was a handful for the Trojans, who sent her to the line on five different occasions. Seven of Deinum's points came from free throws. She also had six rebounds in the game.
The Wolves did indeed "get it from different places," just not quite enough of it.
The loss was only the second of the season for the Wolves, who recovered on Saturday to beat the Red Deer Queens 71-44 and now sit at 10-2 on the campaign.
The Trojans went from Grande Prairie to Edmonton for a game against NAIT Saturday. They are now 12-0 after destroying the Ooks 91-56.
No one is more surprised than Martin himself at the way his team is playing.
The defending ACAC champs were supposed to take a fall this season, with the departure of Kim Lee and Rachel Niven. Yet here they are, still perfect, 12 games into the regular season.
"Don't ask me to explain it. This is supposed to be a rebuilding year," said Martin.
Pillsworth, who took over the starting point-guard role from Niven, had an explanation.
"The players who played behind Kim and Rachel became really tight with those two last year," said Pillsworth. "I became really tight with Rachel. We were in the gym working with each other a lot. They knew they were leaving and they really wanted us to continue on, so they worked a lot with us.
"There's a lot of people who thought that we wouldn't be where we are today, but it's just hard work."
Martin does not think he has seen the last of the Wolves.
"These guys (Wolves) are really tough," he said. "It's them or Concordia I think, and on a given day, you know..."