TWU basketball: Spartans shock fifth-ranked Pandas

Women's basketball team can't make it two in a row, losing to sixth-ranked Huskies

The Trinity Western Spartans women’s basketball team continues to impress, knocking off the fifth-ranked Alberta Pandas before falling short in their upset attempt against the sixth-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies over the weekend on the road.

On Friday night in Edmonton, the Spartans won their first game against Alberta in 20 tries, hanging on for a 66-65 victory.

Holly Strom had 18 points and six rebounds while Laurelle Weigl had 14 points and four boards.

“This game was a tough one and a relief to come out with a win but it was nice to take a step forward from last weekend’s heartbreaker against UBC. We still struggled to play confidently with the lead, but showed a little bit more composure and were able to take advantage of Alberta’s missed opportunities at the end to steal that win from us,” commented TWU head coach Cheryl Jean-Paul.

“I thought Holly demonstrated why she’s one of our top players by being present in pressure situations and overcoming team mistakes and Laurelle is proving what the years of success at SFU have taught her and our moments of confidence stemmed from her consistent play. Today’s game was also Sarah’s best as a Spartan. She took a lot on her shoulders and is showing signs of maturity in how to finish games well.”

The Spartans had control for much of the contest as TWU held 17-12 and 39-28 at the end of the first and second quarters. Trinity Western would continue to play well in the second half as they extended their lead to 12 points, 59-47, to start the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter started with Strom hitting a lay-up to put TWU up 14 points, 61-47 with less than nine minutes remaining. Then the Pandas got their defence in gear and found their offensive scoring touch. Over the next seven minutes the Alberta squad would cut into the TWU lead and with less than a minute remaining it was a two point game 66-64 after a basket by Arbuthnot.

With 24 seconds remaining TWU had the ball and a two point lead and it looked like Alberta would have to foul the Spartans to get the ball back. But Alberta’s Kelly Lyons stole the ball on the inbounds and was fouled by TWU’s Stephanie Carkner, her fifth of the game. Lyons missed her first and her second, but as awarded a third shot on a TWU lane violation. Lyons made her next attempt to make it a one point game.

TWU’s Emily Knauff was fouled on the inbounds play and sent to the line with 20.2 seconds remaining. Knauff missed both shots to give the Pandas one last shot to win the game. With four seconds remaining Alberta’s Clarke drove the lane and turned to find Sally Hillier wide open on the three point line. Hillier’s shot missed and the rebound went out of bounds and was given to TWU with 1.2 seconds remaining. But unlike last week’s 66-61 loss to UBC Laurelle Weigl was able to throw the ball to centre on the inbounds as the clock ran out to preserve the TWU victory.

“We are putting a big emphasis on defensive stops and playing solid defence and it is great to see the team keep building with the success we are having,” commented TWU post Laurelle Weigl after the game. “We are getting used to playing with the lead down the stretch and this win is a great confidence builder for us.”

“This is a great victory for our program, beating a ranked team in their home gym and we will continue to work hard to finish better so that instead of surviving games we are confidently closing out games,” added Jean-Paul.

A slow start in the first quarter — after a six-hour overnight road trip to Saskatoon — was too much for the Spartans as they trailed by 10 after one and lost 62-49 to the Saskatchewan Huskies.

Weigl led the Spartans with 16 points and seven rebounds while Sarah Cleveland chipped in with 10 points and four rebounds.

The Spartans dropped to 3-5 in conference play.