Spartans Avoid Meltdown Against Heat

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February 10, 2013, Langley, BC, (ISN) – After blowing a 21-point fourth quarter lead the Trinity Western University Spartans needed two free throws and a blocked shot from point guard Tristan Smith in the final two seconds to secure a two point, 71-69, victory over the visiting UBC Okanagan Heat Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C.

The victory moves the Spartans to 11-9 and puts them in a third spot in the Pacific Division, while the loss drops the Heat to 3-18 with one weekend remaining in Canada West conference play.

“We have to regain our level of discipline in the half court and the fourth quarter. Our defence is good for three quarters and then it is breaking down,” commented TWU head coach Scott Allen on the team’s end of game issues. “It feels like we are taking steps to get where we want, but we are also taking steps backward. Good teams are going to take advantage if we don’t get more disciplined.”

“The key for us is for every one playing together a little better. When you run a motion offence and the ball stops you are in trouble and some guys are trying to do too much as individuals,” added Allen.

Smith, a Los Angeles native, drove the offensive lane and was fouled with 1.8 seconds remaining in the game and the teams tied at 69-69. The fifth year guard hit both shots to give TWU a 71-69 lead. After a timeout UBC-O inbounded the ball at centre court. The Heat found guard Yassine Ghomari outside the three point line on the far side of the court. The fourth year guard took one dribble and looked to score, but his shot was blocked by TWU’s Smith as the buzzer sounded to end the game.

The Spartans led the entire game 20-15 at the end of the first quarter and 35-29 at the half. Then, in a similar fashion to Friday night’s game, TWU outscored UBC-O 23-to-15 in the third quarter to take a solid 58-44 lead going into the final frame.

TWU expanded the margin and had their biggest lead of the night after Tyler Linttell hit a three point shot with 9:15 remaining to give the Spartans the 65-44 lead.

Then things got interesting.

For the next nine minutes the Heat dominated the play as they outscored the Spartans 25-to-4 to tie the game at 69-69. The lone highlight for the Spartans in this stretch was a thunderous lob dunk by Denny McDonald with 1:46 remaining to give TWU a 69-60 lead.

Smith finished the night with 13 points, six steals, six assists and five rebounds while going 7-fo-7 from the foul line. While Denny McDonald with 16 points and nine rebounds, Tonner Jackson with 16 points and Tyler Linttell with 10 points and six rebounds also contributed to the Spartans win.

Yassine Ghomari with 22 points, Landry Ndayitwayeko with 14 points and Dave Mackay with 11 points and five rebounds paced the Heat.

The Spartans will now take on the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades to determine third and fourth place in the Pacific Division. Both teams are currently tied for third spot with a record of 11-9. A split of the two game home-and-home series would give the Spartans third spot as TWU would hold the second tiebreaker of record in divisional play.

“The games against UFV are always high energy with good fan support. It’s important that our guys stay composed and the winner will be determined by who is going to run their offence the best,” commented Allen on next week’s match up and its implications. “Win or lose, either way we are traveling for the playoffs and we have positive and negatives in each of the match ups, so it will be exciting to see what happens.”

Game time in Abbotsford on Friday at the AESC is set for 8 p.m., while game in Langley at the LEC is set for 7 p.m.

Game Notes: McDonald was called for a technical foul for grabbing the rim after his dunk in the fourth quarter…in the two game series the Spartans combined outscored the Heat 47 to 30 in the third quarter, while UBC-O outscored TWU 51 to 25 in the fourth quarter…

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