Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, B.C. – Playing in its first game since the Christmas break, Trinity Western's women's basketball team earned a 66-57 win over Fraser Valley, running away with the victory after convincing fourth quarter Thursday at the Langley Events Centre.
The Spartans broke open a tight game with a quick 5-0 run to start the final frame and the home side maintained control down the stretch. From there TWU (9-2) never allowed UFV (4-9) closer than five points, opening up as much as a 12-point lead inside the final minute.
After a sluggish first half for both teams, the game found its rhythm in the third quarter, but it was the Spartans nabbing the late-game momentum and rolling to the victory. The Spartans are now 7-0 on home court this season.
TWU's Sarah Buckingham (Surrey, B.C.) led the Spartans second-half charge, putting up seven points in the third quarter before finishing with 15 points on the night. Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.) added a double-double, collecting a team-high 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Kayla Gordon (Prince George, B.C.) came within one rebound of a double-double, earning 13 points and nine boards.
UFV's Sara Simovic led her team with 17 points, including nine in the third quarter. Shayna Litman had 14 points, while Taylor Claggett grabbed eight rebounds.
Both teams battled a bit of rust in the first quarter – TWU shot 27.8 per cent from the field and UFV shot 33.3 per cent – before the Spartans eventually grabbed a 10-8 lead going into the second stanza.
The Spartans opened the second quarter with an 8-2 run, capped by a Jessie Brown (Langley) trey to take an 18-10 lead. However, UFV chipped away at the TWU lead and with a late Simovic lay-up closed the gap to 23-21 at halftime. Brown had a team-high seven points for the Spartans, while Simovic and Litman put up eight points apiece for the Cascades.
Both teams found their way in the third quarter, with each side bettering their entire first half totals in the frame. TWU outscored the Cascades 26-24. The Cascades Simovic had nine third-quarter points to pace the visitors. A buzzer-beating 3-pointer from UFV's Victoria Jacobse made it a four-point game, 49-45, going to the fourth quarter.
But early on in the fourth quarter it was all TWU as they put up the first five points of the final frame to take a nine-point lead. The Spartans extended their lead to double-digits for the first time all night at 64-54 before holding on for the win.
TWU finished the night shooting 41.8 per cent from the field, while UFV shot 37.3 per cent. The Spartans were six for 13 from beyond the arc, bettering the Cascades, who were just three for 12.
After tying the game at 6-6 midway through the first quarter, TWU never trailed.
Head Coach Cheryl Jean-Paul
"Every game is something we can learn from and grow from and we're going to have to find different ways to get the wins. Obviously we didn't shoot the ball well to start the game and it was a bit of a 'post-Christmas lull,' but I really liked what we did in the second half to respond to that. I think between these two schools, it never really matters the record of the other team. There is a competitive fire, which is fun. I thought we found the right looks at the right time to come out with the win.
"It's getting to that point in the season where every practice matters a little bit more and every game matters a little bit more. I definitely saw that in our athletes and we just want to keep that going. We also want to see if we can get a few other people some experience, so when we have to we can go a little bit deeper and we definitely saw signs of that today."
• Last year, TWU and UFV split their home-and-home series, with both teams winning on home court. The Cascades won 60-47 in Abbotsford, B.C. before the Spartans responded with a 65-51 victory back in Langley.
• The Spartans have now won four games in a row, while the Cascades have lost three straight.
• TWU will now look for their first sweep of UFV since Nov. 28-29, 2008, when the Spartans beat the Cascades 70-54 and 70-56 on home court.
The Spartans and Cascades will meet again Friday in Abbotsford in the back half of their home and home series. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. (PT).