Nov 13, 2014

LANGLEY, British Columbia – The Trinity Western women’s basketball team will be aiming for its first home win of the season this weekend as the Spartans host Lethbridge Friday and Saturday looking to bounce back after a pair of losses last weekend to Alberta at the Langley Events Centre.

After opening the season with back-to-back wins, the Spartans dropped back to .500 with two losses against No. 3 Alberta last weekend. With Lethbridge in town, TWU has its sights set on getting back above .500.

Last year, TWU lost to Lethbridge in their lone meeting, falling 76-65 at the LEC. Before that, TWU had won its previous three meetings with the Pronghorns.

Friday’s game is at 6 p.m. and Saturday’s is at 5 p.m. Both games can be seen live on www.twu.canadawest.tv.

CIS ranking: NR
Pioneers Division Standings: 4th (tied)
Last weekend: Alberta 89-55 L, 88-65 L
Streak: 2 losses
2013-14 Canada West Record: 5-17 (6th in Pacific Division)
2013-14 Canada West Tournament: N/A
2013-14 CIS Tournament: N/A

While the Spartans lost both of their games last weekend, there were certainly positives to be taken out their two-game set with one of the top teams in the country.

With a young TWU side, the Spartans learned a lot, and proved as such, over the course of the two games. Over the second half of Saturday’s game, the Spartans tied Alberta 42-42. If the Spartans can maintain that momentum this weekend, they’ll certainly be in it to win it on both nights.

When the Spartans signed Jessie Brown, they knew they had a player who had a bevy of offensive tools. The only question that remained was: how long will it take her to adapt to the CIS game? As it appears to be turning out, not long. Brown leads the Spartans in scoring with 11.8 points per game and she already has had two 16-point outings. In last Saturday’s game, she came off the bench to score 16 points in 25 minutes.

Despite playing a weekend series against No. 3 Alberta, the Spartans are still amongst the best teams in Canada West in turnovers. With just 16.0 turnovers per game, TWU has the sixth fewest in the conference. Against the Pandas, TWU took care of the ball and had just 15 and 13 turnovers on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Last Saturday, the Spartans found their groove from the free throw line, which certainly helped contribute to TWU’s success in hanging with the Pandas for much of the contest. TWU shot 81.8 per cent from the line while going 18 for 22. It was the first time this season that the Spartans have shot better than 73.3 per cent. After making their way to the free throw line just six times in Friday’s loss to Alberta, TWU’s 22 trips on Saturday was a marked improvement.

CIS ranking: NR
Pioneers Division Standings: 4th (tied)
Last weekend: Winnipeg 77-62 L, 69-49 L
Streak: 2 losses
2013-14 Regular Season Record: 6-16 (7th in Prairie Division)
2013-14 Canada West Tournament: N/A
2013-14 CIS Tournament: N/A

Just like the Spartans, the Pronghorns opened the season with a pair of road wins, at Brandon, before returning home and losing on back-to-back nights to a team that is now currently in the CIS Top 10, No. 9 Winnipeg.

It’s very early in the 2014-15 campaign, but this weekend’s games against TWU are critical for the Pronghorns playoff aspirations. Both TWU and Lethbridge will likely be battling it out for the last few playoff positions at the end of the year. How this weekend transpires could go a long way to determining where both teams stand come February.

In just her second year, Mariah Miller has got off to an impressive start through four games, both offensively and on the glass. Miller is leading Lethbridge both in points per game, with 15.8, and rebounds per game, with 9.8. Her 38 total rebounds also has her second in the conference.

Playing in her final season, star post Kim Veldman is off to a strong start and, combined with Miller, have created an impressive rebounding and scoring duo. A Canada West all-star last year, Veldman had nine double-doubles en route to being the conference’s third leading scorer with 18.7 points per game and second leading rebounder with 9.8 boards per game. So far this year, she is averaging 14.8 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game. Veldman had a season-high 15 rebounds in the Pronghorns season-opener against Brandon.

Four games into the season, the Pronghorns find themselves very much in the “middle of the pack.” Lethbridge is eighth in the conference in FG percentage (39.9 per cent), ninth in 3-point percentage (30.4 per cent), seventh in rebounds per game (41.5), tied for eighth in assists per game (13.0), seventh in points against per game (65.2) and 10th in points per game (64.2).