Spartans Take Game 1 Over Winnipeg

trinity western_spartans1

February 23, 2013, Winnipeg (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s basketball team captured Game 1 of its best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series with Winnipeg, as it knocked off the hometown Wesmen 86-78 Friday night in front of 1188 spectators at the Duckworth Centre.

Third-year forward Tonner Jackson (White Rock, B.C.) led the Spartans with 24 points, including going 12-of-13 from the free throw line, while third-year guard Mark Perrin (Toronto) had a double-double, including 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the Spartans lone fifth-year, Tristan Smith (Los Angeles), finished with 15 points, seven assists and two steals.

Winnipeg was led by fourth-year guard Andrew Cunningham’s 21 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds. Steven Wesley finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Jordan Clennon added 15 points while Mark McNee added 10 points.

Trinity Western is now one win away from its first ever win in a road playoff series. In seven attempts, the Spartans have been swept four times and lost in Game 3 on three other occasions.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series will take place at the Duckworth Centre Saturday. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“It was a tough, physical battle tonight,” said Spartans coach Scott Allen. “Tonner was great from the free throw line and worked hard to get there, which was really important for us. Having a balanced attack is key to our success and with five starters in double digits, I thought we did a good job of keeping Winnipeg off balance. We had too many turnovers in the second half, but we held them off in the last few minutes. It was a good team effort overall, but I’m sure we’ll have our hands full again tomorrow.”

Winnipeg jumped out to an 11-4 lead near the midway point of the opening quarter. The Spartans responded by scoring eight straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Perrin to tie the score at 11-11. The teams exchanged baskets for the final four minutes with the Spartans holding a 22-19 lead after one quarter.

The Spartans took advantage of several Wesmen turnovers in the second quarter and were able to extend their lead to 37-24 after three straight Jackson free throws with under seven minutes to play. Winnipeg fought back by scoring six points in a row to cut the lead to 37-30, but another Spartans run a few minutes later pushed the visitors lead to double-digits at 48-34 with 2:10 remaining. The Spartans went into the halftime break leading 52-39.

In the third quarter, the Wesmen clawed their way back into the game and, after Clennon drained a 3-pointer with 4:20 remaining, cut the Spartans lead to 61-55. Trinity Western held off the Wesmen attack late in the quarter and went in to the final frame leading 69-61.

The Spartans enjoyed a double-digit lead for the opening 6:30 of the final quarter until the Wesmen made a run, outscoring the Spartans 8-2, to cut TWU’s advantage to 82-78 with 1:20 remaining. Winnipeg had chances late but was unable to find the basket. Jackson secured the win for TWU by sinking four free throws in the final minute to earn the Spartans an eight-point margin of victory.

Game Notes: In their only meeting of the regular season Winnipeg beat TWU 76-56 in Langley, B.C…TWU lost in two games in last year’s opening round best-of-three series against Saskatchewan…the last playoff series TWU won was in 2010-11, when the Spartans beat Fraser Valley in three games en route to eventually capturing a silver medal at the CIS national championship.