RICHMOND, B.C. – In the first exhibition game of the preseason, the Spartans women's basketball team saw a point-for-point first quarter before the China Olympic Women's Team pulled away to take the game 98-58 Friday at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
The first quarter saw the lead change seven times while both teams settled into a rhythm. TWU's Tessa Needham (Port Moody, B.C.) sank the first two-pointer of the preseason for the Spartans, while Chinese forward Liting Zhang responded just moments later with two points of her own.
The fast-paced gameplay shifted in China's favour toward the end of the second quarter as they took a 16-point lead and ended the first half ahead 46-30.
Keeping the double-digit distance, China continued to build its lead for the second half, sinking seven 3-pointers. The Spartan side saw a collaborative effort, with more than five athletes putting numbers on the board for 28 second-half points.
The Spartans and the China Olympic Women's Team also played a scrimmage Thursday.
The Honourable Mayor of Richmond, Malcolm Brodie, and MP Joe Peschisolido were present to start the game with a ceremonial jump ball.
Friday's contest with the China Women's Olympic Team was the first game of a seven-game preseason schedule for TWU. At the end of September, the Spartans will travel to Ontario to play Western University Sept. 27 and the University of Windsor Sept. 28 and 29. TWU will then play two preseason games in Edmonton, taking on the University of Calgary Oct. 20 and the University of Alberta Oct. 21, before capping their preseason in Bellingham, Wash. against Western Washington Oct. 22.
TWU opens the Canada West regular season Sept. 26-27 at home against UBC Okanagan.
TWU Head Coach Cheryl Jean-Paul
"We started the game out well. I think part of it is not playing scared. We played them in practice yesterday so we had an idea of how good they were going to be. I was really impressed with our resilience and just the fact that they made a shot, we made a shot. We had some great defensive plays.
"As the game went on and they started making adjustments that's when we showed how young we are, but also the fact that we're literally two weeks into our season. So, this gives us a lot of feedback. It gives us a chance to see so many new faces to our program. Every year you have to re-identify with what the Spartan brand for women's basketball is going to be, so I thought the team did a great job yesterday and today establishing the fact that there are a lot of really good things that they're going to be able to do together.
"There's a benefit to playing such a good team. If you make a mistake, they exploit it, and we weren't really in a position to fix it today. That's what practice is for. But how many times do you get a chance to play the calibre of an opponent that we had today? It's a great privilege for our young athletes and I'm really excited about the pushback we showed."
On Playing A Team From China After Going on a TWU Trip to China last September
"Obviously being the team selected to go last year was a huge honour for us and I thought that tour just got us rolling. The nice thing with the Chinese style of play is that it's also exciting. It helps us play our tempo and get used to our tempo and see where we slow down and where we can slow them down.
"It's weird to think that a year ago we were about the climb the Great Wall ourselves. We're hoping for a continued relationship, obviously, with their program. They have some other teams that might come here to play us and it's a great opportunity that most of these athletes will never get to experience. Sport is an amazing vehicle for international experiences."
TWU SPARTANS REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE (all times Pacific)
Fri. 26 UBC Okanagan 6:00 PM
Sat. 27 UBC Okanagan 5:00 PM
Fri. 2 at Regina 5:00 PM
Sat. 3 at Regina 5:00 PM
Fri. 9 Mount Royal 6:00 PM
Sat. 10 Mount Royal 5:00 PM
Fri. 16 at UNBC 6:00 PM
Sat. 17 at UNBC 5:00 PM
Fri. 23 at Victoria 6:00 PM
Sat. 24 at Victoria 5:00 PM
Fri. 4 Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Sat. 5 Winnipeg 5:00 PM
Fri. 11 UBC 6:00 PM
Sat. 12 UBC 5:00 PM
Fri. 18 at Manitoba 4:00 PM
Sat. 19 at Manitoba 3:00 PM
Fri. 25 at Lethbridge 5:00 PM
Sat. 26 at Lethbridge 4:00 PM
Fri. 1 at UFV 6:00 PM
Sat. 2 UFV 5:00 PM
Feb. 8-9 Canada West Play-In Game
Feb. 14-17 Canada West Quarter-Finals
Feb. 22-24 Canada West Semifinals
Mar. 2 Canada West Gold and Bronze Medal Games
Mar. 7-10 U SPORTS Championship (Ryerson)
About TWU Richmond
The high-quality, values-based education Trinity Western University is known for is now in Richmond. Located in the heart of the city, TWU Richmond provides programs tailored to the urban and international audience in Richmond and Metro Vancouver. The expansive, modern space is the new home for students to engage in TWU bachelors degree and masters degree programs. TWU's innovative education delivery modules allow students to take care of their families and advance their careers. In just one night a week, you can complete your degree with our adult international degree completion programs.
Recognized for quality, TWU has received seven consecutive A+ rankings for Quality of Teaching and Learning, holds three Canada Research Chairs, and wins national championships in CIS sports. More importantly, lives are changed at TWU through its whole-person, Christ-centred approach to education. With a wide array of undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree-completion programs, TWU equips leaders of character and competence to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
About Spartan Athletics
As official members of U SPORTS, the Spartans currently compete in 10 sports in the Canada West conference, including women's and men's soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country and track & field. TWU also competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) in men's hockey. Since TWU entered U SPORTS in 1999, the Spartans have won 11 U SPORTS team championships and 25 Canada West team championships.