SPARTANS UPSET BY BOBCATS IN GAME 1 OF CANADA WEST PLAY-IN SERIES

LANGLEY, British Columbia – Playing in their first home playoff game in program history, Trinity Western was upset in Game 1 of its Canada West Play-In best-of-three series, losing 56-48 to visiting Brandon Thursday at the Langley Events Centre.

The Spartans were held to just 29.1 per cent shooting and Brandon was dominant on the glass, winning the battle of the boards 45-30, as the Bobcats earned a win in their first ever Canada West postseason contest.

Keisha Cox had a game-high 15 points and 10 rebounds for Brandon while Natalie Carkner (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) led the Spartans with 14 points. The Bobcats put together an impressive defensive performance against TWU's three leading scorers, holding Kayla Gordon (Prince George, B.C.) to five points, Jessie Brown (Langley) to seven points and Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.) to 12 points – all of which are well below their season average.

After the Spartans had taken a 39-35 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats responded with a 10-2 run, including five points from Cox alone, to give Brandon a four-point lead with just under four minutes to play. TWU was never closer than three points the rest of the night and with both Ratzlaff and Carkner fouling out in the late stages, the Bobcats locked up an impressive eight-point win.

"It's tough trying to understand and then anticipate the intensity level of a game like this," said Spartans coach Cheryl Jean-Paul. "There are so many factors. How physical is it going to be? How hard is it going to get scoring looks? How tough is it going to be to get to the free throw line? You can only guess at some of those things. I think we didn't adapt to the game fast enough. For us to be able to have success tomorrow, we have to understand that the reffing is going to the same. We have to understand that the shot selection has to be the same but the finish has to be different. I think we did have opportunities to score but we didn't take advantage of then.

Keegan Robinson had nine points for Brandon and Kinsley Ransom had eight points. While Gordon was held to just five points, she managed to corral a game-high 11 rebounds.

TWU was 11 for 14 from the line, while Brandon, with more than twice as many trips to the line, was good on 18 of its 29 attempts.

The Spartans Brown, who led Canada West with 61 made 3-pointers in the regular season, was held entirely off the scoreboard from beyond the arc as she missed all three of her long-range attempts. She had also only been held below double digits in points twice all season.

"We had so many uncharacteristic turnovers that if we just chalk them up to nerves and be ready to go tomorrow, that can be dangerous," Jean-Paul said. "We want to make sure we understand why those things were happening. A lot of that has to do with spacing and not anticipating the defensive strategies that the other team had. I thought we created a lot of offensive opportunities for us by playing good defence, but we had breakdowns at the wrong time and didn't respond well at key moments."

The Spartans got off to a quick 7-0 start to open the game before the Bobcats found their stride and climbed within three points, 12-9, by the end of the first quarter. While Brandon shot just 15.4 per cent compared to TWU's 36.4 per cent, the visitors out-rebounded the Spartans 11-7 to keep the game close early on.

With Brandon finding its rhythm in the second quarter, shooting 52.9 per cent from the field in the frame, the Bobcats outscored TWU 21-8 to take a 30-20 lead into the break. With Cox, who had 10 points, leading Brandon at both ends of the floor, the Bobcats held the Spartans to a season-low for first half points. Carkner had a team-high six points for TWU at the break.

Out of halftime, the Spartans turned things around in a hurry, scoring the first 12 points of the third quarter to go ahead 32-30. Holding the Bobcats to just five points in the quarter, the Spartans trailed by just one point, 35-34, heading into the final frame.

Brandon and TWU will play Game 2 Friday at 7 p.m. (PT) and, if necessary, Game 3 Saturday at 7 p.m. (PT) at the Langley Events Centre.

Game Notes: Whoever wins this series will travel to play No. 2-ranked Regina in the Canada West Quarter-Finals…the last time TWU and Brandon met was in late-January of 2016, when the teams split their regular season series…the Bobcats and Spartans did not play during the regular season this year…TWU's previous season-low for first half points was 22 against Regina in an 85-47 loss Nov. 26...TWU has never won a playoff series…last year's Game 2 win over Victoria is the Spartans only playoff win in program history.

-TW-


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