Spartans Upset No.6 Golden Bears

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January 12, 2013, LANGLEY, BC – Thanks to a dominant first half, in which the Trinity Western men’s basketball team opened up a 16-point lead against No. 6 Alberta, the Spartans hung on to earn a 90-85 victory over the Golden Bears Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

Trinity Western (4-7) was impressive side throughout the first half and early in the third quarter, building a lead of as much as 24 points early in the second half, at 59-35, and then hung on down the stretch to earn the five-point win. Alberta (9-2) twice closed to within three points, at 86-83 and 88-85, but, in the end, couldn’t complete the comeback. The Spartans have now won games against ranked opponents twice, having knocked off then No. 10 Victoria 71-61 on Nov. 16.

With Alberta storming back in the fourth quarter, the Bears Kenneth Otieno (Lethbridge, Alta.) dropped a lay-up with 24 seconds left to play to make it 88-85. But after Otieno missed a 3-pointer with six seconds left and Mark Perrin (Toronto) made both his free throws following an intentional foul, it was game over.

“Everyone came with a sense of urgency,” said Spartans guard Tristan Smith (Los Angeles), who, because of injury, hadn’t played since Nov. 10. “The preparation going into the game was critical for us. I walked into the locker room before the game and I didn’t see any fear in anyone’s eyes. I saw a swagger I hadn’t seen in a while and I think we came into the game well-prepared and ready to play. Guys were excited to play this game.”

The Spartans were led by Perrin, who had 22 points and two rebounds, while Tonner Jackson (White Rock, B.C.), playing for the first time since the season-opener against UBC, had 19 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Smith added 17 points and four assists.

For the Bears, whose only other loss this season came against Calgary, Otieno had a game-high 28 points, while Jordan Baker (Edmonton) put together a double-double, with 21 points and 11 boards, and Todd Bergen-Henengouwen (Picture Butte, Alta.) had 13 points and seven rebounds. Youssef Ouahrig (Montreal) also hit double-digits, collecting 11 points.

“It was a tale of two halves,” said Spartans coach Scott Allen. “We played with reckless abandon and a lot of confidence in the first half. In the second half we just got tight and I think that’s just because we’re a young team growing into who we deserve to be. Just being healthy as a team was a real shot in the arm today and having Tonner and Tristan back in the lineup was pivotal for us.

“We got a lot of good transition buckets. We’re not a strong defensive team and we know that, but we came to play defence today. Alberta missed a lot of shots and that helped us. As a program, we’re pretty happy with this win.”

The Spartans got off to hot start from the outset. Down 3-2, Justin Bakuteka (Toronto) had a steal and runaway lay-up that sparked the home side and launched a 9-1 run. From there, TWU never trailed. With Alberta shooting just 18.8 per cent from the field in the first quarter and going zero for seven from 3-point range, TWU took advantage by earning a 20-10 lead after 10 minutes.

In the second quarter, the Bears shooting improved from the field – by the end of the half they had a 35.5 field goal percentage – but from distance they continued to struggle as they were one for 13 at halftime. Trinity Western, shooting 54.5 per cent from the field in the opening 20 minutes and going six for 12 from beyond the arc, built a 16-point edge, 49-33, by the break.

The first half ended with a bang as the Spartans Smith threw up a buzzer-beating heave from his own free throw line – one that looked more like a soccer throw-in that a basketball shot – that found its way into the hoop.

The second half started well for the Spartans and, just over two minutes in, they were up by 24 points. But then Alberta finally started clicking. Slowly chipping away at TWU’s lead, the Bears got to within 11 points by the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth, it was more of the same as Alberta pushed but TWU just hung on. The Bears outscored TWU 25-19 in the final frame but, as it turned out, it was five points too few.

Otieno had 20 of his points in the second half but a missed 3-pointer in the waning seconds that could have tied the contest came up wanting.

The Spartans are back in action Saturday night as they will take on Saskatchewan at 8 p.m. at the LEC. The Golden Bears will travel to Abbotsford, B.C. to play the No. 4 Fraser Valley Cascades Saturday at 7 p.m.

Game Notes: TWU finished with a 50.8 FG percentage while Alberta finished at 44.4 per cent…TWU was 9 for 22 from 3-point range while Alberta was 7 for 30…TWU was 17 for 20 from the FT line and Alberta was 22 for 32…Alberta had a 34-33 advantage in rebounds.