Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, B.C. – Trinity Western's women's basketball team came up just shy in the Canada West bronze medal match, falling 65-63 against Calgary Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
Trailing by 12 points with just under five minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Spartans stormed back, with a 3-pointer from Kianna Wiens (Regina) making it a two-point game with just a few seconds left on the clock.
The Spartans fouled trying to steal the subsequent inbound and the Dinos held on for the victory.
Win the win, Calgary advanced to the U SPORTS championship tournament next weekend in Regina.
For the Spartans, the loss ends what was an historic season, in which TWU earned a program best 16-4 record and advanced to the Canada West semifinals for the first time ever.
Calgary's Erin McIntosh had a team-high 20 points, while Brianna Ghali had 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Bobbi Jo Colburn added 12 points.
The Spartans Jessie Brown (Langley) had a game-high 21 points, while Kianna Wiens (Regina) had 13 points and Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.) had 12 points and nine rebounds.
TWU had 26 turnovers on the night, while Calgary had 12, with the Dinos holding a 29-13 edge in points off turnovers.
Including the playoffs, TWU only lost two games all year on home court, with both coming against Calgary. The Spartans finished the year 12-2 at the LEC. Coming off their loss against Saskatchewan last weekend in Game 3 of the Canada West semifinals, the Spartans lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Calgary got off to a quick start, opening a 13-4 lead only to see TWU respond with a 11-0 run to even the score. The Spartans then took their first lead of the game, 16-15, on a Brown 3-pointer.
Carrying their momentum into the second quarter, the Spartans opened the frame with a 12-2 run that put the home side ahead 28-17. The run capped an 11-minute span in which TWU outscored the Dinos 24-4. Calgary quickly responded, turning the tides with a high-pressure defence, which sparked a 12-1 run. A late basket from TWU's Ratzlaff sent the Spartans into the locker room with a 31-29 lead.
Wiens and Ratzlaff had eight points apiece in the first half for the Spartans, while Calgary's McIntosh had seven points to lead the visitors.
The Spartans quickly opened a five-point gap in the third quarter, after a Ratzlaff knocked down a jumper to make it 43-38. But Calgary closed the gap to a single point by the end of the quarter, with TWU hanging on to a 46-45 lead. Brown had 11 points in the quarter for the Spartans. McIntosh and Colburn had four points each in the quarter.
The fourth quarter was all Calgary in the early stages, with the Dinos taking advantage of timely turnovers to grab the lead before pushing its advantage to 61-49 with 4:48 left in the fourth quarter. A lay-up from Brown launched a late surge from the Spartans, but it proved too little too late in the end, with the Dinos earning a dramatic win. TWU closed the cap to three points, at 63-60, but a lay-up from Ghali off a Spartans turnover proved to be the winning basket.
Head Coach Cheryl Jean-Paul
"I think back to our Winnipeg service trip at the end of April and early May last year. It was a time of really digging deep into who we wanted to be, not just as individuals, but as people while also building the faith foundation of our program. That really set the tone for where we've gone. Going to Japan and China and forging a bond was a very special way to start the season. I found that they fought so hard for each other and we found ways to win games.
"Obviously losing today is disappointing because we were on such a run and I think we've done such a good job of taking feedback and always coming back better the next day. I'm very proud of how they have responded to the challenges.
"Some of our mental mistakes cost us today, but that doesn't take away anything from what we've been able to accomplish all year. But regardless, we're excited for where we're going as a program and continue this momentum, while being humble and gracious and thankful."
• Prior to this year, last year's Canada West quarter-final appearance for the furthest TWU had ever advanced in the playoffs.
• Last weekend TWU battled against Saskatchewan in a best-of-three series, losing the first night, winning the second before the Huskies stole the third game.
• The Dinos and Spartans split their regular season series at TWU, with the Spartans winning the opener before Calgary took the second game of the weekend.
• Ratzlaff led TWU in scoring in the regular season with 18.4 points per game.
• This was the first time TWU and Calgary have ever played each other in the playoffs.
• The game saw fifth-year players Kayla Gordon (Prince George, B.C.) and Ashleigh Barnes (Oceanside, Calif.) play their last games with TWU. Gordon finished her career as TWU's all-time career leader in points, with 1,164.