LANGLEY, British Columbia – Trinity Western’s men’s basketball team earned its first preseason win of the year, as the Spartans beat The Evergreen State College 91-82 Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
Thanks to a 21-2 second-quarter run, the Spartans took 42-29 lead and from there never trailed. Evergreen State got within one point in the fourth quarter, but TWU never relinquished its lead on route to the victory.
“I thought our guys came to compete tonight,” said TWU coach Aaron Muhic, who picked up his first win as the Spartans bench boss. “They played really hard. I thought our defence and rebounding were good early, but both need to get better late. But we were a team for 40 minutes and it was a lot of fun. Overall, I felt like the intensity was pretty good and we played as a team.”
Kelvin Smith (Los Angeles) led TWU with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Lucas Mannes (Chilliwack, B.C.) and Vartan Tanielian (White Rock, B.C.) each collected 16 points and Dean Richey (Spokane, Wash.) had 15 points.
Taylor Drey had a team-high 20 points for the Geoducks while Donald Terry had 16 points and Danny Powell added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Spartans opened a 13-point lead, 42-29, with just over two minutes to play in the first half, but Evergreen State rallied late and climbed to within four points, 44-40, at the break.
In the second half, TWU pulled ahead again, going up 56-44 midway through the third quarter, only to see the Geoducks claw back to make it a four-point game, 57-53.
In the fourth quarter, Evergreen State got all the way back to within one point on a few occasions, but was unable to tie the game or take the lead. A pair of Powell free throws made it an 84-82 game with just over a minute to play in the fourth quarter, but TWU scored the final seven points – five of which came from the free throw line – to salt away the victory.
“To me that’s a sign of an inexperienced team to allow them to get back into it,” Muhic said. “We had them on their heels and we could have delivered a knockout punch, but you also have to give them credit. They’re a mature team and they kept grinding it out.”
The Spartans play Mount Royal Saturday at 5 p.m. at the LEC while Evergreen State, who plays in the of the Cascade Collegiate Conference in the NAIA, will play UBC at 6:30 p.m. at the Point Grey campus.