Nov 01, 2014

WINNIPEG – For the first time since 1999, the Trinity Western women’s basketball team is 2-0 to start its Canada West season as the Spartans earned their second win over Manitoba in as many nights, winning 62-61 Saturday at Investors Group Athletic Centre.

The Spartans had a 12-point lead, 62-50, midway through the fourth quarter and then held off the Bisons just long enough to earn the win.

The last time TWU opened a season with back-to-back wins was in its first year in the CIS, in 1999-2000, when the Spartans beat Lethbridge 82-70 and 71-61 at home.

The Spartans scored the first eight points of the game and never trailed as they were largely in control until the very late stages of the fourth quarter. The Bisons finished the game on an 11-0 run and a jumper from Manitoba’s Sheree Carmona-Galdamez made it a one-point game with one second left to play. But that was as close as the Bisons would get.

First-year Jessie Brown (Langley, B.C.) had a team-high 16 points for TWU while fellow first-year Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.) and second-year Kayla Gordon (Prince George, B.C.) added 14 points each. Gordon and Luca Schmidt (Langley) each had seven rebounds to pace TWU on the glass.

Robyn Eyer led Manitoba with 19 points while Vanessa DeVries added 12 points.

The Spartan shot 47.1 per cent from the field while holding Manitoba to 37.1 per cent.

“A win is a win,” said Spartans coach Cheryl Jean-Paul. “Playing with the lead is definitely something we need to keep working on, but to start 2-0 on the road is something that we don’t want to take away from the team. We’ve been showing some great things in getting leads and we shot the ball much better today. With this being early in the regular season, we know we have so much to work with and are excited to learn how to play our style and our pace with a lead.”

The Spartans dominated play for most of the first quarter and held the Bisons scoreless for nearly the first four minutes of the game. Once on the scoreboard, Manitoba netted 12 points and finished the quarter trailing Trinity Western by five, 17-12.

With Manitoba in foul trouble in the second quarter, TWU took advantage of the Bisons mistakes and extended its lead to 18 points to go into halftime up 42-24. The Spartans outscored Manitoba 25-12 over the second quarter and, at the break, looked well on their way to a victory.

However, momentum shifted in the second half as the Bisons outscored TWU 24-12 in the third quarter to cut TWU’s lead to six and go into the fourth quarter down 54-48.

In the final frame, TWU extended its lead back to 12 points, at 62-50, with 5:34 left to play. But Manitoba battled back and, holding the Spartans off the scoreboard the rest of the way, got within one point. But time ran out on the Manitoba comeback and the Spartans left Winnipeg with a pair of wins.

The Spartans will return to the court next weekend in search of program history when they host Alberta Nov. 7-8. TWU’s women’s basketball team has never opened a Canada West season with three straight wins.