May 25th, 2024

Stunning run powers Horns to victory

By Dale Woodard on December 7, 2021.

One spectacular run powered the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s basketball team to their second come-from-behind win in as many nights.

The Horns downed the MacEwan Griffins 83-66 in Canada West action Saturday night at the 1st Choice Savings Centre.

The win pulls the Pronghorns to an even 4-4 and sends them into the semester break on a four-game winning streak after starting the season 0-4.

That puts the Pronghorns in second place in the Canada West Central Division, behind the 6-0 Alberta Pandas.

At halftime, however, it looked as though the Pronghorns would head into Christmas on a losing note, trailing 39-31 before a 29-0 run led by veteran Amy Mazutinec vaulted the hosts into a lead they never gave back en route to the win.

Post game, Horns head coach Dave Waknuk searched his memory trying to remember if he’d ever seen a run like his team put on in the third quarter.

“I don’t think I’ve been part of a 29-0 run very often,” he said.

“It again showed the depth a little bit, keeping putting people in through that, keeping the intensity up and everyone matching that intensity. It was us staying focused through our defence, that’s what gets us the run. Defence leads to offence. But for us to put together a run like that is massive. It shows how good this team can be in spurts and that was the game right there.”

A fourth-year forward, Mazutinec led the charge in the second half, scoring 22 of her 24 points on the night in the second half and shooting 10 of 11 from the field to help send her team into the holiday break on a tidy winning clip.

“I’ve kind of struggled so far this season,” said Mazutinec. “So it was kind of trying to change my mindset and remember how I used to play and focus more on being aggressive and taking the ball to the hoop, things that usually were good for me.”

Third-year guard Millay Johnson added 15 points and rookie guard Danielle Nadeau contributed 10.

The Griffins drop to 1-5 on the season.

“I think it was a good team win,” said Mazutinec. “We had a lot of contributions from our bench and the people on the court, I thought it was the overall energy. I think at halftime it was realizing we’re a better basketball team than we showed and just digging down and finding our actual talent.”

The Pronghorns started the game with a 9-0 lead and eventually pulled ahead 11-2, prompting a Griffins timeout.

But things unravelled for the hosts in the second half as the Griffins held the Pronghorns to two points in the opening five minutes, eventually taking a 22-21 lead seven minutes in.

Nadeau responded with a three-point bucket for the Pronghorns, but the Griffins still nursed an eight-point lead at the halftime buzzer.

“It was similar to the game (Friday) night,” said Waknuk. “We were down at the half and we said we had to clean up some of the things we were doing.”

It was more us executing than what they were doing. We found our rhythm through defence tonight. I think the benefit of this roster is we have a lot of depth. So we were able to shuffle the cards until we found the right hand and I think we found a smaller lineup. We went a little bit smaller and were a little more athletic and aggressive and we were able to push the tempo. I think we found a tempo we were comfortable with. I thought they were the aggressor in the first half and we really controlled the tempo and the pace in the second half.”

In the third quarter, Mazutinec sparked an 11-3 run to pull the Pronghorns to within four at 52-48. Mazutinec finished the quarter shooting 5-for-5 from the field to put Lethbridge up 55-52 after three quarters.

“It’s great to see,” said Waknuk. “We talk about resiliency all the time as a team and Amy has had struggles up and down, but it’s been coming. You see bits and pieces of it and you know that’s in her. She just showed confidence and I think her confidence just bled into everyone else and she led through example and everyone just played to her style, rhythm, pace and aggressiveness. Amy is a special player and has been a big part of this program for a long time and it showed again tonight why she continues to be a big part of it and I think this is a great spot for her.”

Haily Weaver added eight rebounds and four assists in Saturday’s win.

After shooting just 33 per cent from the field in the second quarter, the Pronghorns shot 60 per cent and 57.89 per cent in the third and fourth quarters, respectively, on their way to a 49.2 per cent success rate over the whole game.

They also shot 30 per cent from beyond the arc and 72.2 per cent on free throws.

After losing their first four games of the season, the Horns began their four-game winning streak with a sweep over the Cougars the prior weekend in Calgary.

They began the season with 0-2 weekends against the Calgary Dinos and Pandas in the opening two weekends of the season.

“It’s funny to say, but I actually think the losses at the start made us have to look at some things and say ‘We have some weaknesses, we can see them, they’re clear and they’re not going to be covered by anything. Let’s fix them,'” said Waknuk. “It’s working on those things and trying to strengthen them and I think we see in the last four games we’ve done a good job moving the basketball. We had 20 assists, which is the number we wanted to get up. We brought our turnover numbers down, which is something we’re trying to work on. Rebounding numbers are going up so it’s those little things that were hurting us early, we;ve been able to focus on them the last few weeks and really get rolling with it. I think that’s a good sign going forward.”

The Pronghorns now head into an extended break that will take them into late January.

They return to the 1st Choice Savings Centre Jan. 21 and 22 when the Cougars pay a visit.

“It’s a long break, it’s about seven weeks until we play our next home game,” said Waknuk. “So it’s going to be a little bit longer break than we would want, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it’ll be good for us, we’re going into exam season. So we’ll recover, recuperate and get healthy. Then we have a few weeks to almost run a second preseason in January. Look at it a little bit differently, but get us back in training camp to get us going and then we have a strong push to the end. I don’t want to be the guy complaining about too much time off. We have to use it smartly and use it as an advantage.”

At the break, the Pandas lead the Central Division, while the 8-0 Saskatchewan Huskies are tops in the East Division.

The Trinity Western Spartans are 6-0 and atop the West Division.

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