LANGLEY, British Columbia – Trinity Western put up a valiant effort, but ultimately lost to the highly-ranked Manitoba Bisons 91-87 Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
The Spartans led 51-38 at halftime, but the Bisons outscored TWU 25-12 in the third quarter to get back in the game and then a late fourth quarter push sent Manitoba (15-5) to their seventh straight win.
After TWU’s Vartan Tanielian (White Rock, B.C.) hit a 3-pointer to give the Spartans an 80-77 lead midway through the fourth quarter, the Bisons responded with a 7-0 run that gave the visitors the lead for good.
TWU (1-17) got back within three points and Tanielian had a 3-point chance to tie it with nine seconds to play, but his attempt came up shy and Manitoba was able to hold on for the win.
Keith Omoerah led Manitoba with 24 points and 13 rebounds while AJ Basi put up 22 points and Justus Alleyn had 20 points.
Tanielian finished the game with 24 points while Lucas Mannes (Chilliwack, B.C.) had 18 points, seven assists and four steals. Graduating senior Kelvin Smith (Los Angeles), who was playing in his final home game, finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Matt Hayashi (Langley) also nine boards.
TWU shot 42.5 per cent (31-73) from the field while Manitoba shot 47.1 per cent (33-70). TWU was 13 for 34 from 3-point range while Manitoba was eight for 22.
“I was very proud of our team and the way we bounced back from last night,” said Spartans coach Aaron Muhic. “Our guys’ attention to detail and wanting to bring energy and intensity on the defensive end was vastly improved. It’s more fun for everyone to be a part of that one. Everyone was purposeful in what we are trying to do.
“We just proved to ourselves that we can play with the best if we’re focused. It was really fun to just be able to send Kelvin off with a positive experience at home. Even though we lost, it was a lot of fun.”
The first quarter saw the teams go back and forth, with Manitoba holding a 16-14 lead by the end of the frame. The Spartans Smith had seven points to lead the home side while the Bisons Brett Jewell, who finished the game with 12 points, had a team-high six points.
In the second quarter, the Tanielian Long Ball Show arrived in full force as the Spartans guard when five for five from 3-point range to help stake TWU to a 51-38 lead at the break. Tanielian finished with 18 points in the quarter as TWU outscored the Bisons 37-22.
The game tilted the Bisons way in the third quarter, with Manitoba outscoring TWU 25-12, thanks to three for four shooting from 3-point range and 53.8 per cent (7-13) shooting from the field. With TWU connecting on just two of nine 3-pointers, the Spartans saw their 13-point halftime lead evaporate and the teams went to the fourth quarter tied 63-63.
The Spartans hung with Manitoba for much of the fourth quarter and with just over four minutes to play, Tanielian’s long range bucket put TWU ahead 80-77. However seven straight Manitoba points put the visitors ahead by four and the Bisons never trailed the rest of the way. A Peter Spangehl (Surrey, B.C.) free throw got TWU within three points, at 90-87, but after Tanielian’s game-tying effort missed, Manitoba’s Alleyn made a free throw to put the game out of reach.
The Spartans will travel to Lethbridge next weekend to finish their 2015-16 season. The Bisons won’t play for three weeks as they have a bye next weekend and have also earned a first round playoff bye.
Game Notes: Last year, TWU won its final regular season home game, beating Winnipeg 97-84…The Spartans finished last season with a 2-18 record…Smith was honoured for his time with TWU in a pregame ceremony.