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VICTORIA – Trinity Western first-year forward Nicole Fransson (Edmonton) had a career night, collecting 25 points and 15 rebounds, but it wasn't quite enough as the Spartans lost 77-71 to Victoria Friday at the CARSA Performance Gym.

Along with Fransson, fourth-year Spartan Sarah Buckingham (Surrey, B.C.) helped the Spartans put together a valiant comeback attempt in the second half, but one that came up just short. At halftime, TWU trailed 44-25, but rallied to get as close as five points, 63-58, early in the fourth quarter. However, from there, the Vikes held off the Spartans down the stretch.

Without the talents of Canada West All-Star Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.) in the lineup, Fransson and Buckingham seemed unphased, combining for 45 of the Spartans 71 points.

The Vikes were led in scoring by fifth year Amira Giannattasio who added 21 points, while Calli McMillan and Aleah Ashlee had 15 points. Katie Langdon led the floor defensively with a team-high 12 rebounds.

The Vikes came out with a comfortable first half out-scoring the Spartans 25-13 and 19-12 in the opening two quarters. Giannattasio was two-for-two from beyond the arc to finish the half with 12 points, while McMillan and Langdon had five and six rebounds, respectively. FFransson was the clear leader for the Spartans from the get-go, notching 10 points in the opening half, while the Spartans struggled with only two offensive boards. The Vikes led 44-25 at the half.

Trinity Western were a different team after the break, working its way back in to the game in the third quarter. The Spartans out-shot the Vikes 28-17 in the third to minimize the 19-point deficit from halftime. Trinity Western's Buckingham put up 10 points in the quarter as the Vikes struggled to handle an energized visiting side.

The Spartans out-scored the Vikes 18-16 in the fourth. In the final two minutes, Buckingham drained two 3-pointers to get the Spartans within six, 75-69, but the Vikes hung on for a 77-71 victory.

• Fransson's other double-double this year was Oct. 27 against UBC Okanagan when she put up 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
• Fransson's 36 minutes were also a career-high for the first-year post.
• After opening the year with six wins in a row, TWU has dropped three straight games.
• TWU's Jessie Brown (Langley, B.C.) was held with a 3-pointer for the first time this season (0-4).
• Ratzlaff has missed three straight games, since suffering an injury Nov. 10 against Mount Royal.

TWU Head Coach Cheryl Jean-Paul
"It's been difficult watching this group give up so much ground at the beginning of games and then have to fight so hard in the second half and yet still have a shot to win the game. We aren't making any excuses. Every team has to battle through injuries and fatigue and we have enough to keep competing but it's really the defensive push back that needs to show earlier in the game. I really liked the response in the second half, but we need to be better for 40 minutes of play and learn through these moments. We have players continuously stepping up and they are much more capable then what they are giving themselves credit for. I'm looking forward to our response tomorrow.

On Buckingham and Fransson
"I think Sarah has been fairly consistent throughout this entire season and really been assertive. I think Nicole is just continuing to find herself. There are things we saw from her today that we haven't ever seen her do before. She is constantly surprising us with her ability to learn the game as quick as she can which is tough because we have been putting a lot of expectation on her."

TWU and the Vikes play the rematch Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT) at the CARSA Performance Gym.