Langley-based Spartans off to 2-0 start

For the first time since 1999, Trinity Western University’s women’s basketball team is 2-0 to start its season.

On Saturday, Spartans earned their second victory over Manitoba in as many nights, winning 62-61 at Investors Group Athletic Centre.

The Spartans had a 12-point lead, 62-50, midway through the fourth quarter and then held off the Bisons just long enough to earn the win.

First-year Jessie Brown had a team-high 16 points for TWU while fellow first-year Tessa Ratzlaff and second-year Kayla Gordon added 14 points each. Gordon and Luca Schmidt each had seven rebounds to pace TWU on the glass.

The Spartans dominated play for most of the first quarter and held the Bisons scoreless for nearly the first four minutes of the game. Once on the scoreboard, Manitoba netted 12 points and finished the quarter trailing Trinity Western by five, 17-12.

With Manitoba in foul trouble in the second quarter, TWU took advantage of the Bisons mistakes and extended its lead to 18 points to go into halftime up 42-24. The Spartans outscored Manitoba 25-12 over the second quarter and, at the break, looked well on their way to a victory.

However, momentum shifted in the second half as the Bisons outscored TWU 24-12 in the third quarter to cut TWU’s lead to six and go into the fourth quarter down 54-48.

In the final frame, TWU extended its lead back to 12 points, at 62-50, with 5:34 left to play. But Manitoba battled back and, holding the Spartans off the scoreboard the rest of the way, got within one point. But time ran out on the Manitoba comeback and the Spartans left Winnipeg with a pair of wins.

“A win is a win,” said Spartans coach Cheryl Jean-Paul, after the game. “Playing with the lead is definitely something we need to keep working on, but to start 2-0 on the road is something that we don’t want to take away from the team. We’ve been showing some great things in getting leads and we shot the ball much better today. With this being early in the regular season, we know we have so much to work with and are excited to learn how to play our style and our pace with a lead.”

The last time TWU opened a season with back-to-back wins was in its first year in the CIS, in 1999-2000, when the Spartans beat Lethbridge 82-70 and 71-61 at home.

The Spartans will try for program history this weekend (Nov. 7-8) when they host Alberta at the Langley Events Centre.

A TWU women’s hoops team has never opened a Canada West season with three straight wins.

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