LANGLEY, British Columbia – Following a pair of road wins over Manitoba, the Trinity Western women’s basketball team returns to Langley for its home-opener against No. 3 Alberta this Friday and Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
The Spartans (2-0) host the Pandas (2-0), who are winners of 21 straight regular season contests, Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. The Spartans have dropped their last two games against the Pandas, losing once last year and once the year before. The last, and only, time TWU has ever beat Alberta was in 2011-12 when the Spartans knocked off the then No. 5 Pandas 66-65.
Both games this weekend can be seen live on www.canadawest.tv
On Saturday, the Spartans will host their annual Shoot for the Cure night, which is a fundraising initiative by the CIS Women’s Basketball Coaches Association to raise money for the Canadian Brest Cancer Foundation and other related charities.
Since the campaign was launched in the fall of 2007, it has seen over $760,000 in donations.
At the 2014 CIS championship in Windsor, last March, the WBCA presented a cheque for $112,898.03 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, while an additional $25,462.55 was amassed by universities that elected to donate their fundraised money to local or provincial organizations.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (2-0)
CIS ranking: NR
Pioneers Division Standings: 1st (tied)
Last weekend: Manitoba 61-56 W, 62-61 W
Streak: 2 wins
2013-14 Canada West Record: 5-17 (6th in Pacific Division)
2013-14 Canada West Tournament: N/A
2013-14 CIS Tournament: N/A
The Spartans are off to their best start to a regular season since their inaugural year in the CIS, in 1999-2000. With back-to-back wins to open the season, this is only the second time in program history that TWU is 2-0 to start its Canada West campaign.
Now, with Alberta in town, the Spartans will be seeking to make history as TWU’s women’s basketball team has never started a season with three straight wins.
The Spartans went on the road to Manitoba and left with a critical pair of victories. The wins marked the best start to a season since coach Cheryl Jean-Paul took over as the team’s bench boss and it was also TWU’s first weekend sweep on the road since a trip to UBC Okanagan in January 2012.
YOUNGSTERS LEAD THE WAY
In the Spartans second win of the weekend over the Bisons, it was TWU’s first and second year players leading the way offensively. First-year Jessie Brown had a team-high 16 points in 21 minutes while fellow freshman Tessa Ratzlaff had14 points in 16 minutes and second-year Kayla Gordon added 14 points to go with seven rebounds in 35 minutes. The previous night, the trio combined for 27 points for a weekend total of 71 points between them.
In both of their games this past weekend, the Spartans got off to impressive starts. On Friday, the Spartans opened a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter after a pair of free throws from Jamie Andrews-Stobart put TWU up 22-12. In Saturday’s game, TWU was even better early on as it scored the first eight points of the game and built a 40-19 lead by the late stages of the second quarter.
ALBERTA PANDAS (2-0)
CIS ranking: No. 3
Pacific Division Standings: 1st (tied)
Last weekend: Saskatchewan 64-57 W, 74-67 W
Streak: 2 wins
2013-14 Regular Season Record: 20-2 (1st in Prairie Division)
2013-14 Canada West Tournament: 3-1 (3rd)
2013-14 CIS Tournament: 1-2 (6th)
The Pandas are coming off a 20-2 regular season last year and a Canada West bronze medal and so far this year, they’ve picked up right where they left off.
Playing in their home-opening weekend, Alberta, who was ranked second in the Canada West preseason poll, knocked off Saskatchewan – the defending Canada West gold medallist – on back-to-back nights.
Now, Alberta will open its road schedule in Langley.
With a win this Friday, Alberta will have gone a full calendar year without a regular season loss in Canada West action. The Pandas have won 21 straight games since a 74-58 loss to Regina on Nov. 8, 2013. The closest team has come to beating Alberta during the streak was Calgary, who lost by just four points, 69-65, on Jan. 24, 2014. While the run is impressive, it is far from the CIS record for consecutive conference wins in women’s basketball. From 1992 to 1995, the Winnipeg Wesmen won 87 straight conference games.
FAIRBANKS LEADS THE WAY
It’s only two games into the season but Jessilyn Fairbanks is off to a hot start offensively for the Pandas. In Alberta’s season-opener, she tallied 22 points while shooting 61.5 per cent from the field, going five for five from the free throw line and collecting four rebounds. The next night wasn’t quite as impressive in the shooting department, but she still managed 17 points and added seven boards and eight assists. Her 19.5 points per game lead Canada West after the first weekend.
PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES
As a team, Alberta shot 45.0 per cent from the field over the course of last weekend, which puts the Pandas third in Canada West. Defensively, the Pandas were also strong last Friday and Saturday, holding Saskatchewan to 36.1 per cent shooting from the field, which has them tied for second in the conference.