TWU Spartans return home to face Thompson Rivers

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by Mark Janzen

January 22, 2014, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s basketball team returns to the Langley Events Centre for the first time in nearly eight weeks as they will host Thompson Rivers Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m.

Both games will be streamed live at twu.canadawest.tv.

The Spartans are coming off a 92-70 win over UBC Okanagan last weekend while TRU is looking to rebound after back-to-back losses to Fraser Valley. 

TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (7-7)
CIS ranking: NR
Pacific Division standings: 3rd (tied)
Last weekend: UBCO 75-73 L, 92-70 W
Streak: 1 win

Canada West Stats

  • Scoring Offense: 76.6/game (6th)
  • Scoring Defense: 77.6/game (11th)
  • Field Goal Percentage: 42.7 (7th)
  • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 33.3 (10th)
  • Rebounds: 40.1/game (6th)
  • Steals: 8.4/game (5th)
  • Assists: 13.6/game (9th)
  • Blocked Shots: 2.0/game (10th)

SPLITTING UP

So far, through seven weekends and 14 games this year, the Spartans have earned a split every single weekend. Four times the Spartans have lost the first game of the weekend before bouncing back and win the second game, while three times TWU has won the first contest before losing the second.

ON THE PLAYOFF BUBBLE

The Spartans enter this weekend tied for third place in the Pacific Division with TRU and Mount Royal and are one win clear of sixth place UBC. In all likelihood, it’ll be a battle between these four teams for the final two playoff positions. But, for the Spartans, with four of their next six games against TRU and MRU, their playoff fate is still very much within their own control.

WHO ARE YOU GOING TO GET?

The question each game with TWU is simple: Which team is going to show up? The Spartans have proven they can play with the big boys as they are the only team in Canada West to have beaten both No. 3 Victoria and No. 8 Saskatchewan. However, they have also lost to three-win UBCO, four-win UNBC and squeaked out a one-point victory over two-win Manitoba.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Denny McDonald – The Spartans fourth-year forward as been their most consistent player all year. He’s taken his game to another level this season and leads the team with 12.1 points per game and is coming off a career-high 22 points against UBCO.

Mark Perrin – With the loss of Tyus Allen to injury, Perrin has been forced to move into a point guard role. Instead of being a shooter first, he’s now working on running the offence. In last Saturday’s game, he had six second half assists in helping TWU outscore UBCO 52-30 over the final 20 minutes.

Lucas Mannes – After transferring from Briercrest College over the Christmas break, Mannes has averaged 10.2 minutes per game and earned 20 minutes in last Saturday’s game against UBCO. He is averaging 3.5 points per game and is shooting 45.5 per cent from the field.

THOMPSON RIVERS WOLFPACK (7-7)
CIS ranking: NR

Pacific Division standings: 3rd (tied)

Last weekend: Fraser Valley 74-65 L, 76-69 L

Streak: 3 losses

Canada West Stats

  • Scoring Offense: 80.9/game (3rd)
  • Scoring Defense: 75.0/game (5th)
  • Field Goal Percentage: 43.4 (5th)
  • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 39.2 (1st)
  • Rebounds: 39.2/game (7th)
  • Steals: 8.6/game (4th)
  • Assists: 14.4/game (8th)
  • Blocked Shots: 2.4/game (6th)

BOUNCE BACK TIME

After a pair of losses to Fraser Valley last weekend and a loss to Brandon prior to that, the WolfPack enters Friday’s contest looking to snap its three-game losing skid and get back above .500. Thompson Rivers will also be looking to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since its opening weekend.

EFFECTIVE LONG BALL

Thompson Rivers doesn’t take a lot of 3-point attempts, but when it does, it’s effective. The WolfPack has only taken 288 3-pointers this year, which is the fifth fewest in the conference, but has made a league-leading 39.2 per cent of them. TRU’s Brett Rouault leads Canada West with a 3-point shooting percentage of 52.6 per cent.

MORE THAN MARGINAL SCORING

Given their perfectly mediocre 7-7 record, the WolfPack is averaging a surprising +5.9 scoring margin, which is the fourth best in Canada West. After Victoria, Alberta and Saskatchewan – all of which are ranked in the CIS Top 10 – the WolfPack is next in scoring margin. TRU averages 80.9 points per game while giving up 75.0 points per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ta’Quan Zimmerman – The third-year guard from Connecticut has become the WolfPack’s go-to offensive weapon. He’s third in the conference with 19.3 points per game and 10th in field goal percentage at 51.7 per cent. He’s also third in free throw percentage at 87.0 per cent.

Reese Pribilsky – In his third year of eligibility, the transfer from the University of Victoria has been a stealing machine this year. He’s averaging a conference-best 2.5 steals per game for a total of 35 steals in 14 games.

Brett Rouault – He has started just one of the 14 games he’s played and has averaged just 14.8 minutes per game and 6.6 points per game, but get him shooting 3-pointers and he’s statistically the best in Canada West. He’s 20 for 38 from beyond the arc for a shooting percentage of 52.6 per cent.

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