By Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, B.C. – The Spartans hung with Brandon for the first 37 minutes of Friday's contest, but the visiting Bobcats showed their scoring prowess late, with a dominant final three minutes to pull away for a 101-93 win Friday at the David E. Enarson Gymnasium.
After TWU closed the gap to just two points, 87-85, late in the fourth quarter, a Troy Grant 3-pointer launched a 12-0 Brandon run that sealed the win for the Bobcats.
The victory sees Brandon move back above .500, improving to 5-4. The Spartans remain winless on the season at 0-9.
The Bobcats Jonathan Range had an impressive double-double, collecting 18 rebounds and putting up 17 points, while Tyvon Cooper, who was the Canada West Men's Second Star of the Week last week, had a team-high 26 points to go with nine assists and six rebounds.
TWU's Pogos Trunyan (Sacramento, Calif.) had 28 points to lead the Spartans. Max Viitala (Melbourne, Australia) had a double-double, with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Vartan Tanielian (White Rock, B.C.) chipped in 16 points.
As a team, TWU had a 47.3 shooting percentage from the field, while Brandon shot 46.8 per cent. TWU had 15 turnovers to Brandon's 10, which created a 20-8 Bobcats advantage in points off turnovers.
The Spartans and Bobcats came out swinging in the first quarter with Brandon edging TWU by just two points, 27-25, after 10 minutes. TWU shot 58.8 per cent from the field with seven players hitting the scoresheet, while the Bobcats shot 45.8 per cent, but put up 24 attempts to TWU's 17.
In the second quarter, the Bobcats jumped out to a 36-30 lead, forcing TWU into an early timeout. However, the Spartans struck back with a 7-0 run. It was back and forth until a 3-pointer from Tanielian late in the quarter put the Spartans up by six before eventually going into halftime with a 50-46 edge.
Brandon came out strong in the second half, putting up 32 points in the third quarter to take a 78-75 lead going to the final 10 minutes. A buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Cooper put Brandon ahead after three quarters and they never trailed the rest of the way.
The Spartans were step-for-step with Brandon early in the fourth quarter, but never managed to get back on even terms. With 2:57 to go, Grant's 3-pointer sparked an impressive finish for the Bobcats. A trey from TWU's Tee Maberry (Pasadena, Calif.) with six seconds to play made it a six-point game, 99-93, but it was too little too late.
Head Coach Aaron Muhic
"I thought we played a pretty good first half both offensively and defensively. I didn't think our concentration and attack mode was good to start the second half and that kind of set the tone. We were on our heels and we gave up a lot of simple drives and picked up fouls because we weren't where we were supposed to be. But I was proud of the guys. They recovered from that and tried to get back into it, but we need to figure out a way to fight through to the end.
"The key for me for tomorrow is that we need to attack for 40 minutes and make the little adjustments that we didn't make today. We need to attack the paint better and we can't settle for quick jumpers."
• The Spartans are now 0-4 at the Enarson since moving to the Langley Events Centre for the 2009-10 season. TWU dropped both games of a weekend series with Lethbridge last year and lost once against Saskatchewan in 2015-16, when the teams played one game on campus and one at the LEC.
• The last time the Bobcats and Spartans played, in 2015-16, the teams split their weekend series in Langley. TWU lost 98-87 before rebounding to win 87-78.
TWU and Brandon play the rematch Saturday at 7 p.m. (PT) at the David E. Enarson Gymnasium.