WINNIPEG – The Trinity Western Spartans used a strong fourth quarter to defeat No. 9 Winnipeg 72-68 and hand the previously undefeated Wesmen their first loss of the season Saturday at the Dr. David F. Anderson Gymnasium.


The Spartans (7-5) went into the fourth quarter trailing 58-51, but outscored the Wesmen 21-10 in the final frame secure a weekend split with Winnipeg (11-1).


Kayla Gordon (Prince George, B.C.), who finished with a game-high 23 points, dropped a jumper with just under six minutes to play to give TWU a 61-60 lead. The Spartans held an advantage the rest of the way.


The strong fourth quarter capped a 46-point second half, which matches the Spartans best ever second half point total on the road.


Kayla Gordon (Prince George, B.C.) led the Spartans with a game-high 23 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists. Natalie Carkner (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) finished with 13 points, including four 3-pointers. Jessie Brown (Langley, B.C.) added 12 points, all coming by way of the three-point shot. Ashleigh Barnes (Oceanside, Calif.) led the Spartans in rebounding with 11 boards.


Antoinette Miller led the Wesmen with 19 points and four assists. Faith Hezekiah was next with 14 and eight rebounds. Megan Noonan finished with 13 points and five assists. Lena Wenke led the Wesmen with nine rebounds.


TWU’s Julie Marshall (Langley) and Sarah Buckingham (Surrey, B.C.) contributed valuable minutes off the bench throughout the contest and especially down the stretch as Buckingham played 28 minutes and Marshall was on the court for 22 minutes.


TWU’s fourth quarter was a stark improvement on compared to Friday, when the Spartans were outscored 43-23.


“Wow. I’m not sure if there’s another way to put that,” said Spartans coach Cheryl Jean-Paul. “What a great response to yesterday’s fourth quarter. Everyone played with heart, resilience and worked hard to stay together as a team. We talked about risking failure and just being more assertive with the ball and we definitely achieved that. Going into today’s game, we knew that others had to step up and we had to be a better defensive team and that was evident from the tip-off all the way through to the last possession.”


Winnipeg started the contest on fire jumping out to a quick 9-3 lead in the opening 2:15. The Spartans got back into the game, sparked by a pair of 3-pointers from Brown to trail 16-15 after the opening quarter.


The Wesmen extended their lead at the midway point of the second quarter thanks in part to a 13-4 run to open up a 29-19 lead. The Wesmen continued to hold the lead for the remainder of the frame and were up 34-26 at the halftime break.


Miller led the Wesmen with 11 first half points followed by Noonan who scored nine. Brown scored nine points for the Spartans in the opening 20 minutes.


Both teams came out firing in a high scoring third quarter. The Spartans outscored the Wesmen 25-24 to cut the Winnipeg lead to 58-51. The Spartans connected on 9-of-15 (60 per cent) from the field, Winnipeg was 9-of-16 (56 per cent).


Both team finished the game with 32 rebounds. The Spartans drained 11 three-pointers, Winnipeg had four from outside.


The Spartans will have the bye next week and will resume play in two weeks hosting the Manitoba Bisons. Winnipeg will be on the road for games next Friday and Saturday in Kamloops, B.C. against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.


Game Notes: The Spartans played without Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.), who returned home to attend a family wedding…Ratzlaff had 31 points in Friday’s loss to Winnipeg…TWU previously scored 46 points in a second half on the road against UBC Jan. 27, 2007 in an 89-73 loss…the Spartans record for most points in a second half is 47, which they have done twice, once against Brandon (Nov. 4, 2006) and once against Manitoba (Dec. 30, 2012).