T-Birds top Spartans with fourth quarter run

T-Birds top Spartans with fourth quarter run

Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University

LANGLEY, B.C. – The UBC Thunderbirds tallied 17 straight points in the fourth quarter to turn a five-point deficit into a 12-point lead as the visitors earned a 67-58 win over Trinity Western Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

After TWU had taken a 55-50 lead midway through the final frame, UBC (15-4) roared back to take a 67-55 lead and roll to the victory.

Maddison Penn scored eight fourth-quarter points to lead the T-Birds as they finished the final quarter outscoring the home side 21-11.

The game was a tale of two Spartans teams – the one that played in the second and third quarters and the one that played in the first and fourth quarters. TWU (12-7) outscored the T-Birds 40-27 in the middle stanzas but UBC outscored the Spartans 40-18 in the opening and closing frames.

"I think there were two quarters that we figured out what was going on and there were two quarters that we didn't," said Spartans coach Cheryl Jean-Paul. "To play at a high level, you can't have two quarters where things are shut down. I thought we were shooting scared in the first quarter and I thought we responded better in the second and third quarter, but it kind of came back in the fourth quarter.

"I really liked our defensive pressure when it was there. But we have to be able to maintain that for longer stretches regardless of who is on the floor. I think we definitely gave ourselves the opportunity to be in the driver's seat in the last few minutes of the game. But you can't afford to have easy misses and make mistakes late."

Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.) had a career-high 15 rebounds and a team-high 17 points for TWU, while Jessie Brown (Langley) had 13 points. Ratzlaff's previous career-high was 13 rebounds, which she collected Nov. 20, 2015 against Winnipeg.

Penn finished with a game-high 18 points while Kara Spotton added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the T-Birds.

The loss was just the Spartans second in their last eight games.

UBC finished the game shooting 40 per cent from the field while TWU shot 31.9 per cent.

The T-Birds were 17 for 24 from the free throw line, while the Spartans knocked down six on just seven opportunities.

The T-Birds were the better side in the first quarter as they shot 42.9 per cent from the field, while holding the Spartans to just 16.7 per cent. While TWU out-rebounded UBC 14-9, including seven on the offensive glass, UBC was a perfect seven for seven from the free throw line, cruising to a 19-7 lead through 10 minutes. Penn led UBC with seven points.

The Spartans found their rhythm in the second quarter, shooting 46.7 per cent, to outscore UBC 15-12 and close the T-Birds lead to nine points, 31-22, at halftime. Ratzlaff had 12 points in the quarter to lead TWU at the break.

TWU caught fire in the third quarter, going on a 16-2 run, to erase the T-Birds advantage and take a 44-39 lead. The T-Birds closed the gap to one point with a jumper at the horn that sent the teams to the fourth quarter with TWU up 47-46. Brown had 10 points in the quarter and Natalie Carkner (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) added six points. Spotton and Penn had four points each for UBC.

With UBC trailing 55-50 in the fourth quarter, the visitors came to life. A Krysten Lindquist lay-up sparked a 17-0 T-Birds run that put UBC in full control. The T-Birds shot 57.1 per cent in the fourth quarter while TWU was just 19 per cent from the field.

"If you want to win tough games against tough opponents, the little things are so important," Jean-Paul said. "I thought we just had turnovers at the wrong time and missed offensive rebounds at the wrong time and we took fouls at the wrong time. It's about being in control of those things a little bit better and a few decisions here and there and that's potentially a win."

The teams meet again Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT). The Spartans will honour their graduating seniors Lucas Schmidt, Natalie Carkner and Jamie Andrews-Stobart in a special postgame ceremony.

Game Notes: The Spartans have never beat UBC under coach Cheryl Jean-Paul, who took over in 2010...the last time TWU knocked off the T-Birds was Nov. 1, 2008, when the Spartans earned a 54-48 win at UBC...when UBC and TWU met last year, the T-Birds picked up wins on both nights, tallying 77-52 and 73-57 victories.

-TW-