KELOWNA, British Columbia – Trinity Western's men's basketball team picked up its first win of the season, beating UBC Okanagan 79-74 to split its season-opening series on the road.
Perfect performance from the free throw line by the Spartans late in the game was the clincher for a five-point victory in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
The fourth quarter started with the Spartans up 62-50. UBCO went on a bit of a run to start the fourth, cutting the lead to single digits with 6:48 left in the game. With just over four minutes to play, Buzz Truss made a pair of free throws to cut the Spartans deficit to six. A dunk and a pair of free throws from the Spartans' leading scorer, Patrick Vandervelden (Abbotsford, B.C.), quickly put his team's lead back up to ten, 69-59. In the final 32 seconds, TWU went six for six from the free throw line, putting the game away.
Last year, TWU didn't win a game until its 14th outing as the Spartans beat Brandon Jan. 30.
Each team finished with three players scoring in double digits on the night. For UBC Okanagan Aldrich Berrios led the way with 17 points, followed by Buzz Truss and David Manshreck with 12 and 11 respectively. Vandervelden finished with 18 points to lead the Spartans, with Tyus Allen (White Rock, B.C.) and Pogos Trunyan (Sacramento, Calif.) netting 15 and 12.
"I thought our guys responded really well tonight," said Spartans coach Aaron Muhic, whose team lost to the Heat Friday. "We played a very intense first half. Despite foul trouble, Patrick set the tone in the paint early in the game. We were able to answer their runs and get the stops we need to win down the stretch. I thought Tyus, Peter (Spangehl, Surrey, B.C.), Josiah Meppelink (Langley, B.C.), and Vartan (Tanielian, Surrey) made some big plays on offence late in the game. I'm really proud of these guys."
Trinity Western came out firing to start the game, with Allen getting the scoring started with a three-pointer just over thirty seconds after the opening whistle. That gave the Spartans the first lead of the game, and they never gave it up.
Through the first twenty minutes of play, the momentum was definitively on TWU's side. On pace to score in triple digits on the night, the Spartans held a 51-36 lead at half time. Vandervelden and Trunyan led the way before the break, scoring 14 and 10 respectively. Berrios led the Heat offensively in the half, scoring 10 points, six of which came from a pair of three-pointers late in the second quarter.
The third quarter started with the Heat's Ryan Morck making a layup to cut the Spartans lead to 13, but with two minutes left in the frame the visiting side had extended their advantage to 21 points, up 62-41, primarily thanks to Allen, who scored from all areas with a layup, a three-pointer, and a mid-range jumper in the third. Layups from Truss and Manshreck, who converted a and-one as well, and a pair of free throws by Lafontaine in the final seconds of the quarter brought the Heat within 12 at the penultimate buzzer.
The Trinity Western Spartans will play next Nov. 11-12, in a home and home against the UFV Cascades.