TWU Spartans aim for bounce-back weekend on home court

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by Mark Janzen

January 30, 2014, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – With six games remaining, the Trinity Western women’s basketball team will look to finish the season on a winning note and will start the stretch drive this weekend when it hosts Brandon Friday at 6 p.m. and Regina Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.

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

The Spartans are hoping to bounce back from a pair of losses to Thompson Rivers last weekend. Brandon enters the weekend coming off back-to-back losses to Winnipeg, while Regina comes in riding a 10-game winning streak, which includes two victories over Manitoba last Friday and Saturday.

TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (3-13)

  • CIS ranking: NR
  • Pacific Division standings: 6th (tied)
  • Last weekend: TRU 59-44 L, 63-51 L
  • Streak: 2 losses

Canada West Stats

  • Scoring Offense: 58.7/game (12th)
  • Scoring Defense: 67.6/game (12th)
  • Field Goal Percentage: 35.7 (10th)
  • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 24.0 (14th)
  • Rebounds: 38.1/game (12th)
  • Steals: 9.4/game (11th)
  • Assists: 10.6/game (12th)
  • Blocked Shots: 1.9/game (11th)

DEFENDING HOME COURT

The Spartans will look to earn a win on home court for the first time since beating Calgary in their season-opener. Since then, both of TWU’s wins have come on the road, as the Spartans beat Manitoba and UBC Okanagan away from home. With Brandon in town Friday, the Spartans will hope to use their home court to their advantage and bump their slump at the LEC.

SCORING AND REBOUNDING WITHOUT STROM

Trinity Western has now played three games without leading scorer Holly Strom. If the fifth-year Strom is unable to play in either or both games this weekend, the Spartans will once again need to find scoring and rebounding depth. In the three games she missed, it has been one player who has led the team in both scoring and rebounds each night. Janelle Traber (18 points and eight rebounds) led the team against UBCO while Kayla Gordon (13 points and seven rebounds) and Laurissa Weigl (14 points and 11 rebounds) led TWU against TRU last Friday and Saturday respectively.

MAINTAINING POSSESSION

The Spartans have had an impressive knack for maintaining possession of the ball as they have a +1.19 turnover margin, which is seventh in Canada West. They are averaging 19.2 turnovers per game while forcing the opposition into 20.4 turnovers per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • Laurissa Weigl – The fourth-year forward tied her season-high with 14 points Saturday to lead the Spartans. She also had 11 rebounds to complete the double-double.
  • Kayla Gordon – The first-year from Prince George, B.C. played a career-high 34 minutes last Saturday and for the third straight game put up at least 12 points. She has collected six rebounds per game over the last three outings and shot 45.5 per cent from the field.
  • Luca Schmidt – When Schmidt is on her game, her 3-point shooting has proven to be very effective. Aside from a zero for six night against Victoria, when Schmidt has attempted five or more 3-pointers in a game, she is 43.8 per cent from long range.

BRANDON BOBCATS (5-11)

  • CIS ranking: NR
  • Prairie Division standings: 6th (tied)
  • Last weekend: Winnipeg 58-54 L, 76-66 L
  • Streak: 2 losses

Canada West Stats

  • Scoring Offense: 62.0/game (10th)
  • Scoring Defense: 68.6/game (13th)
  • Field Goal Percentage: 33.1 (14th)
  • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 28.9 (9th)
  • Rebounds: 44.0/game (3rd)
  • Steals: 9.8/game (7th)
  • Assists: 10.4/game (13th)
  • Blocked Shots: 1.1/game (14th)

PLAYING IT SAFE

For a team that is six games below .500, the fact that they have a +3.19 turnover margin is remarkable. The Bobcats force 20.3 turnovers per game but, more impressively, they only give up 17.1 turnovers per game themselves. No other team in the conference can boast of even a +2 turnover margin.

REBOUNDING FRENZY

When Brandon plays, expect a ton of rebounds. The Bobcats are third in Canada West in rebounds, collecting 44.0 boards per game. But at the same time, Brandon is last in opposition rebounding, allowing teams to grab 50.3 boards per game.

BUILDING MOMENTUM

While the Bobcats can no longer mathematically make the playoffs, they have been generating momentum in recent weeks. Brandon opened the second semester with a three-point loss to TRU (9-7) before rattling off three straight wins. That win streak was snapped by Winnipeg (8-8), but the Bobcats put up a good fight on both nights, losing by just four points and 10 points.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • Cassie Cooke – Cooke leads Canada West in scoring with 24.5 points per game, which is more than five points clear of the conference’s second leading scorer. She is also first in Canada West in steals, with 3.8 per game, first in 3-point field goals made, with 2.9 per game, and is third in assists, with 4.5 per game.
  • Kaela Cranston – The third-year Cranston is averaging 9.9 points per game, but she has the ability to go off for a whole lot more, evidenced by her 23-point effort last Friday against Winnipeg.
  • Keegan Robinson – While the first-year guard has been averaging just 3.0 points per game all year, she exploded for 15 points in last Saturday’s game against Winnipeg.

REGINA COUGARS (14-2)

  • CIS ranking: No. 4
  • Prairie Division standings: 1st (tied)
  • Last weekend: Manitoba 89-59 W, 74-50 W
  • Streak: 10 wins

Canada West Stats

  • Scoring Offense: 78.6/game (1st)
  • Scoring Defense: 58.3/game (4th)
  • Field Goal Percentage: 44.5 (1st)
  • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 34.2 (1st)
  • Rebounds: 48.8/game (1st)
  • Steals: 8.0/game (13th)
  • Assists: 17.6/game (1st)
  • Blocked Shots: 4.6/game (1st)

WINNING BIG

Regina has been one of the top teams in the country all year and as such has been dominating teams like no other team in Canada West. Regina has outscored its opponents by an average of 20.2 points per game. The Cougars are coming off 24 and 30-point wins over Manitoba last weekend and have now won by 30 or more points four times. Their biggest margin of victory is 60, when they beat Thompson Rivers 99-39.

SCORING SENSATIONS

The Cougars are averaging a conference-leading 78.6 points per game this year, which is nearly seven points more than second ranked Saskatchewan. The only way to beat Regina is to grind out a defensive battle. In their two losses this year, they were held to 41 and 43 points.

BATTLE FOR FIRST

While the Cougars have already locked up a playoff spot, the next three weekends are critical as they battle for first place in the Prairie Division. Regina is in a three-way tie with Alberta and Saskatchewan for top spot. One team will finish first and, barring a major upset, would likely host the Final Four. One team will almost assuredly have to host one of Victoria, UFV or UBC. And one team will be forced to go on the road to start the playoffs.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • Nicole Clarke – Clarke is fourth in league scoring with 17.8 points per game while leading Canada West in 3-point shooting percentage, at 44.1 per cent.
  • Charlotte Kot – She leads the Cougars in rebounds, collecting 7.6 per game, which has her eighth in the conference. She has had double-digit rebound nights in four of her last five games.
  • Janine Guijt – The Netherlands product joined Regina midseason and in just six games is already averaging 13.3 points per game. Guijt played for the Netherlands in both the 2013 U18 European Championships and the 2013 U19 World Championship.

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