January 24, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s basketball team (5-9) continues its bid for a playoff spot this weekend as it takes on the Mount Royal Cougars (3-11) Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre. Both games will be streamed live at www.canadawest.tv .
The Spartans have put together some encouraging matches this semester, highlighted by a victory against the No. 5 Alberta Golden Bears two weeks ago. The Spartans defeated the Lethbridge Pronghorns this past Friday, 96-72, but the following night had a late game comeback fall just short, against the Calgary Dinos, losing 93-92.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (5-9)
- CIS ranking: NR
- Pacific Division position: Tied for 5th
- Last Weekend: Lethbridge 96-72 W, Calgary 93-92 L
- Streak: 1 loss
- 2011-12 Pacific Division record: 10-8 (4th)
- 2012 playoffs: 0-2 (5th – tied)
- 2012 CIS tournament: N/A
The Trinity Western men’s basketball team comes into this weekend at the LEC well in reach of a Pacific Division playoff spot. With consecutive weekend splits to open the second semester, the Spartans will look for a sweep against the newest member of the Canada West conference, the Mount Royal Cougars.
The Spartans have taken their game to a new level this semester, largely due to the return of key athletes Tonner Jackson (Surrey, B.C.), and Tristan Smith (Los Angeles). Both players were out for the first semester with varying injuries, but now that they’re healthy, they have made an immediate impact for the Spartans.
This past weekend Jackson put up a career-high 36 points in the Spartans loss to Calgary, and another 10 in their win against Lethbridge. Smith was big for the Spartans as well, putting up a double-double in their win against the Pronghorns, with 16 points and 10 assists.
Mark Perrin (Toronto) has continued to be a hot commodity for the Spartans, leading the team with 21.5 points per game (2nd in Canada West and 3rd in the CIS), and 2.6 steals per game (6th in CW). He has also been a threat from beyond the arc, shooting 41.3 % (13th in CW) and averaging 2.4 three pointers per game (11th in CW). Denny McDonald (Mississauga, Ont.) leads the team in field goal percentage, shooting 52.2 per cent (7th).
As a team, the Spartans are averaging 79.8 points per game (7th in CW), while allowing 83.9 points per game (15th in CW). The Spartans hold a field goal percentage of 41.6 per cent (11th in CW) while allowing the opposition to shoot 46.0 per cent from the field (16th in CW). The speed of the Spartans has allowed them to average a conference leading 11.0 steals per game, which has given them a turnover margin of +2.64 (5th in CW) through their first 14 games.
MOUNT ROYAL COUGARS (3-11)
- CIS ranking: NR
- Pacific Division position: 7th
- Last Weekend: Manitoba 97-85 L, Winnipeg 75-71 L
- Streak: 3 losses
- 2011-12 ACAC South Division record: 15-3 (1st)
- 2012 ACAC playoffs: 4-0 (1st)
- 2012 CCAA tournament: 2-1 (2nd)
Mount Royal will look to bridge the gap in the standings this weekend, as the Spartans are currently two games clear of the Cougars. With a pair of wins at the LEC this weekend, the Cougars would find themselves in the thick of the playoff race.
The Cougars are in their first year of the Canada West conference, as they moved up from the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association last season, a league in which they helped form in 1974. In their last year of CCAA competition, the Cougars captured an Alberta provincial championship, and a CCAA national silver medal.
Now, as a member of the Canada West conference, the Cougars have experienced their share of struggles this season. Sitting in 7th place in the Pacific Division, with a record of 3-11, they have done what most young programs do in their formative years: push the opposition early on in games but, with a lack of experience, falter down the stretch and struggle to earn wins.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel for this team. And that light comes in the way of a potential playoff berth. Just three wins out of the fourth and final playoff spot, the Cougars still have a chance at the post-season.
To get there, they will have to look to key players like Nick Loewen and Awet Abraha.
Abraha has had the hot hand all year, leading the team in points with 16.7 points per game (10th in Canada West). Loewen has been doing it in a number of areas this season, leading the team in rebounding, with 7.4 per game (15th in CW), and 3-point shots made, averaging 2.4 per game (10th in CW).
As a team, the Cougars are averaging 73.2 points per game (13th in CW), and have allowed their opponents to score 80.9 points per game (12th in CW). The Cougars have shown their willingness to bang the boards, grabbing a conference-leading 14.9 offensive rebounds per game.