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September 6, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia – Despite a boisterous home crowd at the David E. Enarson Gym, the Trinity Western men’s basketball team, playing in their preseason opener, was unable to overcome a hot-shooting UC Riverside, as it fell 98-76 Friday night.

The Highlanders, playing in their second game in as many nights after beating UBC Thursday, shot 70.0 per cent from the field in the first half to build a 20-point lead and, from there, cruised to a convincing win.

The Spartans had a 33-24 edge on the glass, which included a 15-6 advantage on the offensive boards, but turnovers and UCR’s impressive shooting proved to be their undoing. Both teams took 57 shots, but UCR hit 37 while TWU hit 26. The Spartans also committed 25 turnovers to UCR’s 21.

Sam Finely led UCR with 24 points while four other Highlanders hit double-digits.

The Spartans were led by Mark Perrin (Toronto), who had 16 points while Denny McDonald (Mississauga, Ont.) added 12 and Anthony Ottley (Toronto) and Kelvin Smith (Winnipeg) each contributed 11.

The loss drops the Spartans to 0-1 in preseason while UCR improves to 2-0.

“I think we turned the ball over too much,” said Spartans coach Scott Allen. “Our offensive rebounding was excellent and the energy in that regard was fantastic. Our focus in the first few weeks has been on being a little more intense and aggressive and it’s a long process but I think it’s a good step.

“They’re (UCR) talented athletes and the guys on their team who can shoot the ball shot well. Number one (Finley) went off on us and that’s just poor defence. But at the end of the day, I’m happy with a lot of things that I saw and the improvements we’ve made over the last two weeks have been good.”

The Highlanders came out of the gate, shooting the lights out as they shot 70.6 per cent in the opening 10 minutes and staked themselves to a 28-18 lead after the first quarter. Finley collected 12 points and was five for seven from the field as he turned an early 10-9 TWU advantage into a 10-point UCR lead.

The second quarter didn’t treat the Spartans any better as TWU made just five field goals and was held to just 13 points. Meanwhile, the Highlanders continued to drop shots seemingly at will as they finished the half shooting 70.0 per cent and with a 51-31 lead.

The third quarter saw the Spartans battle back, outscoring UCR 25-19 over the 10-minute frame, to make it a 14-point game heading into the fourth quarter, but a lopsided first half was simply too much to overcome for the home side. The Highlanders shooting cooled off slightly, but the visitors still had three players in double-digit points by the end of the third quarter.

An energetic crowd spurred the Spartans on late in the third and early in the fourth quarter, but at 70-58, a 12-point gap was as close as TWU got.

Trinity Western’s Perrin had an impressive eight-point fourth quarter, but it was far too little and far too late. After getting outscored in the third quarter, UCR responded by outscoring the Spartans 28-20 in the final 10 minutes to put an exclamation point on an impressive night.

The Highlanders had all 11 dressed players see at least 14 minutes of playing time and all but one put up at least three points. The Spartans countered with nine players who played at least 16 minutes and nine players who hit the scoreboard.

The Spartans return to the court Oct. 2 when they continue their preseason schedule by taking on the Tacoma Rise at the Langley Events Centre at 6 p.m.

The Highlanders will wrap up their three-game trip to B.C. Monday, when they face Fraser Valley. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

Game Notes: TWU shot 45.6 per cent to UCR’s 64.9 per cent…TWU committed 25 turnovers to UCR’s 21…UCR had 19 steals to TWU’s 9… attendance was 475