LANGLEY, B.C. – UBC Okanagan held off a hard-charging Trinity Western side late in the fourth quarter to earn a thrilling 75-73 win over the Spartans Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
The Heat held a 74-69 lead late in the fourth quarter, but four straight Spartan points made it 74-73 with 15 seconds to play. After a made free throw from the Heat's Hafith Moallin, the Spartans had one last chance up the court, but a missed jumper from TWU's Josiah Allison (Abbotsford, B.C.) at the buzzer dashed the Spartans comeback efforts.
UBCO's Philip Okanlawon led the Heat with a double-double, earning 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Triston Matthews also picked up a double-double, with 13 points and 10 boards. Aldrich Berrios added 20 points for the Heat.
Playing in his first regular season contest as a Spartan, transfer forward Borja Soriano (Valencia, Spain) had a double-double himself, scoring 16 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Vartan Tanielian (Surrey, B.C.) had 17 points and Jack Nadelhoffer (Tigard, Ore.), who also transferred to TWU this season, scored 14 points.
With UBCO trailing 38-29 at halftime, the visitors outscored the Spartans 25-11 in the third quarter to grab a lead the Heat never surrendered.
The Spartans undoing came, in part, from the free throw line, as they shot 9 for 22. UBCO was 10 for 14 from the line.
After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Spartans were up 16-14 after the opening frame and carried momentum into the second quarter.
TWU then shot 47.4 per cent in the second frame, compared to 23.5 per cent from the Heat, to establish a 38-29 edge at the break. Okanlawon and Tanielian each had 12 points through 20 minutes.
The Heat took over in the third quarter, holding TWU to 22.2 per cent while shooting 45.5 per cent, as the visitors dominated coming out of halftime. Matthews had 10 points to pace UBCO as they held the Spartans to just 11 points in the quarter.
UBCO built its lead to as much as 11 points in the fourth quarter, 66-55, before TWU climbed back in to make it a game late.
TWU Head Coach Aaron Muhic
"We went into halftime with a nine-point lead and I felt like in the second half, we focused on the wrong things and they got a bunch of offensive rebounds in a row and we weren't doing our jobs and we let them back in it. The one thing I was impressed with was our guys' willingness to keep fighting late, which gave ourselves a chance to actually win. That was good and if a few things went our way, we could have very easily won. There were times where there were little glimpses of brilliance getting the ball inside and getting some good offensive rebounds. So, we'll bounce back and see who we are tomorrow."
• The last time TWU and the Heat played was in preseason last year, with TWU winning 73-70.
• TWU and UBCO split their last season series, in 2016-17, with the Heat winning 87-71 before TWU earned a 79-74 win.
• The Spartans finished the night with a 55-44 edge in rebounds.
• TWU had four blocks in the game, while the Heat was held without a block.
The Spartans and Heat play again Saturday in the rematch at 7 p.m. (PT) at the LEC.
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.