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KELOWNA, British Columbia – The Trinity Western women's basketball team won its season-opener, beating UBC Okanagan 68-61 Friday at the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.

Trailing 52-51 with just under seven minutes to play, the Spartans went on an 11-2 run to take the lead for good. TWU held at least a five-point lead the rest of the way.

Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.) had a double-double to lead the Spartans, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Kayla Gordon (Prince George, B.C.) and Jessie Brown (Langley, B.C.) had 16 points and five rebounds each.

"It's always good to start the season with a win and not have to worry about whether we are capable of doing that," said Spartans coach Cheryl Jean-Paul. "There are some areas to clean up before tomorrow's game, taking care of the ball, knocking down free throws and not giving up so many 3-pointers early. But there are also a lot of positive sequences to build on. We established a good rhythm inside with our forwards and defended the 3-point line better for the remainder of the game. Tomorrow's going to be another battle that will require toughness and team play that I definitely think we have."

The first quarter ended with Trinity Western up 24-18. The Spartans made eight of their 16 shots in the opening quarter, with Gordon leading the visitors offensively, scoring eight points.

However, the first half ended with the Heat leading 37-34. UBCO pulled within one, at 24-23, early in the second quarter after a made free throw by guard Claire Elliott. Later in the quarter, UBCO tied the game up twice, at 32-32 and at 34-34, thanks to a pair of baskets from forward Jordan Korol. After UBCO took a one-point lead, Elliott made a mid-range jump shot with 26 seconds left on the clock to stretch the lead to 37-34 at the break.

At halftime, Chloe Kennedy led the Heat in scoring with eight points while Brown led the Spartans with nine points.

Fourth year Heat guard Olivia Johnson started the scoring in the second half, making a layup to give UBC Okanagan a 39-34 lead with just over thirty seconds played in the third quarter. TWU tied the game up 39-39 with 6:40 left in the third quarter after a layup by Ratzlaff and a three-pointer from Brown just 20 seconds apart. Fifteen seconds later, another layup from Ratzlaff gave the Spartans their first lead of the second half, 41-39, with 6:03 left.

The lead changed hands two more times in the third quarter, before the back-and-forth play left the Heat down by two, 49-47, going to the fourth quarter. Through the first three quarters Gordon, Brown, and Ratzlaff each had 12 points, with Ratzlaff earning 10 rebounds to lock up a double-double.

With 7:20 left in the game Chloe Kennedy tied the game up at 51-51 with a layup in traffic before racing back on defence to break up a long Spartans pass, stopping what would have been an easy two points for TWU.

However TWU started pulling away down the stretch. After a lay-up by fifth-year point guard Luca Schmidt (Langley) put them up 59-54, Ratzlaff scored the next five points for the Spartans, putting the visiting side up eight, 64-56, with just under three minutes left. UBCO go within five points, at 66-61, but another late Ratzlaff layup put it away for the Spartans at 68-61 with 1:33 left.

The two teams will play again tomorrow night, with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m. PT, once again in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.

Game Notes: The last time TWU and UBCO played was in last year's preseason when the Spartans won 72-67…the Spartans shot 45.8 per cent from the field, while the Heat shot 31.1…TWU had a 44-40 edge in rebounds.