January 27, 2013 Langley, BC (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s basketball team completed a perfect weekend on the hard court for Spartans basketball as it knocked off Mount Royal 86-69 Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
With the Spartans women earning back-to-back wins over the Cougars, the men’s team, led by Tristan Smith (Los Angeles), who had a game-high 18 points, put the finishing touches on an unblemished weekend late Saturday night thanks to a dominant second half, in which TWU outscored MRU 44-30.
The win, coupled with Thompson Rivers’ loss to Victoria, puts TWU (7-9) into sole possession of the fourth and final playoff position in the Pacific Division. The loss drops Mount Royal to 3-13.
With the game still close, at 55-47 with 1:09 left in the third quarter, the Cougars bench was whistled for a technical, Tonner Jackson (White Rock, B.C.) hit all three free throws and then, 11 seconds later, Justin Bakuteka (Toronto) nailed a 3-pointer to put TWU up 61-47. After that, MRU never got closer than 12 points.
The difference for TWU was also on the glass as it collected 57 rebounds, including 22 of the offensive variety, compared to MRU’s 38 boards.
Along with his 18 points, Smith also had four steals, four assists and five rebounds for TWU while Denny McDonald (Mississauga, Ont.) added 17 points and eight rebounds and Bakuteka had 13 points and three steals.
For Mount Royal, who saw all 12 players score at least two points, Awet Abraha (Calgary) had a team-high 10 points while Kyle Wilson (Chestermere, Alta.) added nine. Deng Awak (Brooks, Alta.) had a game-high 10 rebounds to go with his seven points.
“I don’t think we’ve had a game where we felt that much in control for quite some time,” said Spartans coach Scott Allen. “It’s nice for the guys who have worked so hard this year to have a game like this. We persevered through some tough times during the game. I thought Justin was fantastic and he gave us a new scoring look, which took the pressure off other guys.
“We executed our game plan well. We made their non-shooters shoot the ball. And we forced Mount Royal into playing in a way they weren’t comfortable with.”
The Cougars got off to a quick start in the first quarter as they took advantage of a cold-shooting Spartans side to earn a 20-14 edge after 10 minutes. With the Spartans shooting just 22.7 per cent from the field and 11.1 per cent from 3-point range, the Cougars – themselves shooting 42.1 per cent from the field and 40.0 per cent from distance – had as much as a 10-point lead before holding on for a six-point advantage going into the second quarter.
With the Spartans turning their shooting around in a hurry and heating up from beyond the arc – they went six for nine from 3-point range in the second quarter alone – the home side outscored MRU 28-19 in the second frame to go into the break up 42-39. Leading the way from long range was Smith, who was three for five and Taylor Heinrichs (Port Moody, B.C.), who was two for two. The Cougars meanwhile were three for seven from distance, but were unable to keep up with a suddenly firing Spartans side. After going five for 22 on field goals in the first quarter, TWU was 11 for 16 in the second quarter.
The Spartans opened the second half with nine straight points to go up 52-39 and they never led by anything less than five points the rest of the way. After a pair of made free throws from MRU’s Nick Loewen (Winnipeg), the Cougars made it 52-47, but TWU ended the third quarter on a 9-2 run to put the game out of reach.
In the fourth quarter, TWU extended its lead to as much as 20 and then cruised to a 17-point win.
The Spartans are back on the court Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 when they travel to Kamloops, B.C. to take on Thompson Rivers. Mount Royal will be back in the Lower Mainland next weekend as they will return to play UBC Feb. 1-2.
Game Notes: TWU shot 39.5 per cent from the field while MRU shot 32.8 per cent…TWU was 11 for 29 from 3-point range and MRU was 7 for 19.