LANGLEY, B.C. – Despite a close first half, the Trinity Western Spartans fell to the visiting Winnipeg Wesmen 105-97 Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
In the first regular season game of the new year, the Spartans kept a close game up until the break, but the Wesmen pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring TWU 34-17, to finish the game with an eight-point lead.
Point leader across the board were Spartan Varten Tanielian (Byblos, Lebanon) with 28 points and seven 3-pointers and Wesmen Sean Tarver and Narcisee Ambanza, who tied for 21 points. The win sees the Wesmen improve to a 9-4 season while the Spartans dropped to 0-11.
TWU's Borja Soriano (Valencia, Spain) was the lone player with a double-double, as he had 19 points and 12 rebounds.
The 97 points marked TWU's highest offence output thus far this season.
The first half of the game played out evenly, despite the Spartans extending a lead of six points twice in the first quarter alone. It was Tanielian who led the entire field with nine points and a 57.1 field goal percentage in the first quarter. Both teams were perfect from the free throw line, with TWU going 4-4 and Winnipeg shooting 9-9. A quarter-ending three-point shot from Josiah Allison (Abbotsford, B.C.) brought the Spartans within one point of the Wesmen, 25-24.
The second quarter continued a similar rhythm with the teams exchanging the lead four times before Wesmen Spas Nikolov made a series of four free throws to extend their lead to 10 points. The Spartans fought back to a three-point deficit, 46-43, going into the half.
The Wesmen took over early in the second half of the game, winning the third quarter 34-17, before adding another 25 points in the fourth.
Ambanza became the obvious third-quarter leader with 13 points, sinking three 3-pointers and five field goals. Tarver added 12 points in the frame himself. T
The Spartans finished the game with a redeeming 37-point final quarter, the highest tally out of any quarter in the entire contest, but it was not enough to make up the gap.
• Winnipeg has won five of its last six games.
• TWU's previous season-high for points came in a 97-88 loss to UBC.
• The Spartans had 38 rebounds to Winnipeg's 34.
• TWU was 21 for 25 from the free throw line, while Winnipeg was 25 for 34.
TWU Head Coach Aaron Muhic
"We shot the ball well tonight and I thought our guys maintained their energy and intensity. We did a good job of getting to the free throw line for the most part. We executed very well in the first half and I thought we could have been up if we didn't turn the ball over and foul them. The game was promising, but we just had a letdown in the third quarter.
On the fourth quarter
"Vartan hit some shots in that fourth quarter and with Josiah Meppelink (Langley) and (Ethan) DaSilva (Calgary) did a good job of pushing the ball and making plays. I thought Borja battled all the way through and had a good game."
The rematch is set for Saturday evening back at the Langley Events Centre, with tip-off at 7 p.m.