EDMONTON (from MacEwan University) – The MacEwan Griffins tried a number of different strategies on Elle Hendershot on Thursday night.
Double teams, box outs and even attempting to get her to foul out.
None of them worked particularly well as the star fifth-year Alberta post grabbed more than half of her team’s rebounds (16 of 31) and added 10 points for her seventh double-double of the season, leading the Pandas to a 57-40 win over their crosstown rivals in Canada West women’s basketball action.
“She’s just a workhorse on the glass,” said Alberta head coach Scott Edwards. “She just loves rebounding. We’ll miss her next year, but it’s been fun watching her go after it. She’s going to end up being one of the best all-time rebounders at our school. I enjoy watching her as many times as I can.”
Hendershot now has 58 rebounds in Alberta’s past three games as they improve their playoff positioning by moving to 9-8 in the standings, while MacEwan falls to 4-13.
“She’s tough. She’s very skilled at what she does,” said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams. “You throw your best at her and try to send two and double her and she still finds opportunities.”
MacEwan gained a brief reprieve early in the fourth quarter when Hendershot, in foul trouble with four offences, took a chair for four-and-a-half minutes.
Unfortunately, that didn’t help them either as the Pandas used some successful outside shooting and solid defence to extend a 10-point advantage to 16 by the time Hendershot re-entered with 3:50 remaining.
The Griffins put forward a solid defensive effort, as well, highlighted by Shannon Majeau’s block of Hendershot late in the contest and nine total steals between five different players.
“It’s tough. When you give up 57 points, you think you should give yourselves a chance to be competitive in it at least,” said Adams. “We just had a tough time, particularly the second quarter, finding good shots. Then we did find good shots and they just didn’t fall. That’s the way the game goes sometimes.”
Both teams are carbon copies of one another in the way they defend with ferocious, swarming steal-hungry guards, but the Pandas had another gear in that regard in the second quarter. They forced MacEwan into a few too many 24-second violations and held them to just three points, opening up a 12-point half-time advantage that they’d never really relinquish.
“I thought we got to another level defensively today that I haven’t really seen of us lately, so that’s really nice to see,” said Edwards. “If we’re going to be a playoff team, that’s the kind of defence you’ve got to play to get there.
“I think MacEwan does a tough job. We only scored 57 points tonight, so it’s not like we’re two slouches. They did a great job defensively.”
Alberta also got 14 points from Emma Kary, who went four-for-six from behind the arc, and 13 from Jenna Harpe off the bench.
MacEwan was led by point guard Kristen Monfort-Palomino, who had 12 points, six rebounds, an assist and two steals in 26 minutes. Rookie Mackenzie Farmer added 10 points.
“She stepped up, hit a few shots and found some ways to contribute on the scoreboard,” said Adams of Monfort-Palomino, who at one point scored five points in a row. “It was really nice to see when you get some scoring from the point guard position, especially on a night when our top scorers struggled to find open opportunities.”
The crosstown rivals will meet again in the rematch at the home of the Pandas at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Saville Community Sports Centre.