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SPARTANS STAY PERFECT, PULL AWAY LATE TO BEAT MRU

SPARTANS STAY PERFECT, PULL AWAY LATE TO BEAT MRU

LANGLEY, B.C. – The Trinity Western women's basketball remained perfect early in the Canada West regular season, beating Mount Royal 87-81 win Friday at the Langley Events Centre.

With the game in the balance and TWU up by just one point, 76-75, Jessie Brown (Langley) knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:40 on the clock, followed by lay-ups from both Sarah Buckingham (Surrey, B.C.) and Nicole Fransson (Edmonton) to put the home side ahead 83-75 with 40 seconds to play. From there, the Spartans (5-0) closed out the win.

The first-year Fransson had a career night, earning a double-double, with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while fifth-year Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.) had 25 and 14 rebounds. TWU's Brown added 15 points, while Sarah Buckingham (Surrey, B.C.) and Kianna Wiens (Regina) put up 11 points apiece.

The win improves TWU's already record-setting regular season start to 5-0. Prior to this year, the Spartans had never opened a season with more than two wins in a row. The Cougars dropped to 0-5.

The first half saw a tight battle from the tip-off to halftime, with TWU taking a one-point lead thanks to a 3-pointer from Kianna Wiens (Regina) at the buzzer.

The Cougars had just four turnovers in the first 20 minutes, compared to TWU's 10, while it was the visitors with a better shooting percentage, going 44.1 per cent, while TWU was just 38.7 per cent from the field.

Keeping the game close was the Spartans shooting from distance, as they were 5 for 11 while MRU was just 1 for 8. TWU also had a 22-17 edge on the glass.

The Cougars went on a run midway through the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers from Jordan Blaskin and Sarah Rinsky to give MRU a 54-47 lead.

However, TWU stormed right back, rallying with an 11-0 run, which was capped by a fast-break lay-up from Fransson, giving the Spartans a 58-54 lead with 45 seconds left in the third quarter.

But, it was a game of swings, and the teams traded baskets throughout much of the fourth quarter.

Trailing by four points, the Cougars Madison Hooper knocked down a long-range offering to get MRU within one point, 71-70, with just under three minutes to play.

Eventually, a made free throw from the Cougars Maria Blanco with 2:41 to play evened the score 73-73.

That, ultimately set the table for a late Spartans surge that proved to be the difference down the stretch.

QUOTABLE
"We've been in enough close games and we have a core group that trusts each other on the floor. When you have five people who are capable of scoring, it really takes the pressure off any one player. I thought we shot a fairly high percentage towards the end of the game. We created great shots for each other and we handled the pressure. I thought we showed a lot of maturity, regardless of who was on the floor. For both Nicole and Kiana to show that type of maturity and composure in the last three or four minutes bodes well for us. It was really exciting to see people step up and really handle that last three minute well."

"She is catching people off-guard, including us at times. But I think that's what makes it exciting. It's nice to see older guards trust her in critical situations. That says a lot about how hard she's working in practice and what she can do with the ball in her hands. I think the post-to-post connection with Tessa is working. Kianna and Nicole have some great looks together. It's exciting to see the younger players become part of the framework of our team."

NOTABLE
• Prior to this year, the Spartans had never opened a Canada West campaign with more than two wins in a row.
• Last weekend, TWU swept then No. 6-ranked Regina for the first time in program history. Before last weekend, TWU had never beat the Cougars in Regina.
• Ratzlaff, who broke the Spartans career scoring record last weekend, passing Kayla Gordon, now has 1,213 career points.

UP NEXT
The rematch is Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT) at the LEC.

About TWU
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.

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