Spartans stage late rally, edge Cascades in OT

Spartans stage late rally, edge Cascades in OT

Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – The Trinity Western Spartans erased a six-point deficit in the final two minutes of regulation and went on to defeat the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades 90-82 in overtime on Friday evening at the Envision Athletic Centre.

In a game of wild momentum swings, it was the Spartans who had the final surge – they finished the game on an 18-4 run, encompassing the last minute-plus of the fourth quarter and OT.

UFV (1-2) and TWU (2-1) renew hostilities on Saturday evening at the Langley Events Centre (7 p.m. tip-off, webcast at canadawest.tv).

"Trinity played really well," Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said. "They out-worked us, out-competed us. That's never a good feeling, but it's reality. We've got to try to fix those things for tomorrow."

The Cascades had a solid start, reeling off an 11-0 run midway through the first quarter to go up 17-11. But the Spartans took over shortly thereafter, going on a 12-0 run of their own to take a 30-21 lead. The visitors would lead by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, and took a 44-35 advantage into halftime.

The Cascades opened the third quarter on fire, outscoring the Spartans 17-2 over the first five minutes of the frame to seize a 52-46 lead. They maintained a lead throughout the fourth, and were up 78-72 after Mark Johnson's layup off an assist from Vijay Dhillon with just under two minutes left in regulation.

But on the ensuing possession, UFV lost track of Spartans guard Max Viitala, and he made a wide-open three-pointer from the right wing to cut the deficit to three. After Dhillon missed a trey of his own, Pogos Trunyan corralled a long rebound and raced down the floor for a layup, plus the foul. He converted the old-fashioned three-point play to tie the game with 1:14 left.

Neither team was able to score again in regulation, and UFV forward Nav Bains had a 10-foot fadeaway jumper go off the back iron at the buzzer.

The Spartans pulled away in OT, scoring the final eight points of the extra session to secure their second win in conference play. That's one more than they had all of last season, when they finished 1-19.

Trunyan paced the Spartans with 20 points, while Viitala (18 points), Tyus Allen (15), Tee Maberry (11) and Vartan Tanielian (11) also scored in double figures.

Johnson's play was a bright spot for UFV. One year to the day after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that cost him nearly the entire 2015-16 season, the third-year forward from Palm Springs, Calif. racked up a game-high 28 points (11-of-12 shooting from the field) and 13 rebounds.

Manny Dulay (17 points, 12 assists), Nav Bains (18 points, nine rebounds) and Vijay Dhillon (13 points) also chipped in offensively for the Cascades.

"My knee feels better the more I play," Johnson noted. "This game, I just felt comfortable. I wasn't thinking about my knee – I was just playing my game. That's the biggest thing.

"It felt good (to play well) – I just wish we came out with the W. But we'll come out tomorrow more aggressive."