Pronghorns bury Spartans in return to David E. Enarson gym

Pronghorns bury Spartans in return to David E. Enarson gym

Mark Janzen - TWU Athletics

LANGLEY, British Columbia – Trailing by 10 points in the first quarter, Lethbridge exploded for an 18-2 run to cap the quarter and take a lead the Pronghorns wouldn't relinquish, as the visitors rolled to an 89-81 win over Trinity Western Friday at the David E. Enarson Gym on the Spartans campus. 

A hot-shooting TWU side opened a 17-7 lead early in the opening frame, but the Pronghorns came storming back and led by seven points, 25-19, after 10 minutes. 

Lethbridge (5-4) pushed its lead to 41-30 at the break and held off TWU in the second half. 

On the strength of an impressive double-double- from Patrick Vandervelden (Abbotsford, B.C.), which saw the third-year post put up 20 points and collect 16 rebounds, the Spartans pushed back in the fourth quarter, but never got closer than five points. 

With the Pronghorns scoring their final nine points from the free throw line, Lethbridge held off TWU's late surge to earn the win. 

Mike Pierzchala countered Vandervelden's impressive effort with a double-double as well, collecting 24 points and 16 boards. Zac Overwater also had 24 points for the visitors. 

Vartan Tanielian (Surrey, B.C.) had a team-high 21 points for the Spartans (2-7). 

TWU went to the free throw line just 10 times compared to 29 for the Lethbridge. 

"I thought it was sloppy game," said Spartans coach Aaron Muhic. "I feel like they got us in screen and rolls in the second half and we weren't able to defend that very well. I was proud of the guys that we were able to hit some shots and execute some plays as the game went on, but we have to compete better early in the game. We just weren't ourselves at times today. We're better than giving up 23 turnovers." 

TWU was hot from beyond the arc in the first quarter as four different Spartans hit 3-point offerings, but the game turned the Pronghorns way when Pierzchala knocked down a trey of his own with four minutes to play. Pierzchala's 3-pointer sparked the Pronghorns on a game-turning run. 

With TWU shooting just 23.5 per cent from the field in the second quarter, Lethbridge, who shot only 30 per cent itself, pushed its lead to 11 points by the break. 

Pierzchala had a team-high 17 points at halftime while Overwater had 13. Pogos Trunyan (Sacramento, Calif.) had nine points for a Spartans team that had 16 first half turnovers.

Vandervelden brought the home crowd to its feet in the third quarter with a monster dunk that got TWU within eight points, 52-44, but Lethbridge quickly responded and held a 67-54 lead going to the fourth quarter. 

In the final frame, TWU's Max Viitala (Melbourne, Australia) and Tanielian knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to get TWU within five points, at 86-81, but Lethbridge, who shot 72.4 per cent from the free throw line over the course of the game, never allowed the Spartans any closer. 

The two teams meet in the rematch Saturday at 7 p.m. at the David E. Enarson Gym. 

"We need to keep it simple tomorrow and our guys need to be ready to play and I think they will be," Muhic said. "We have to defend better and keep them out the paint. If we play better team defence that should also make our offence better." 

Game Notes: Lethbridge has won six straight against the Spartans…the last time TWU beat the Pronghorns was Jan. 18, 2013 when the Spartan won 96-72…the Spartans lost both games against Lethbridge last year, falling 99-81 and 96-75.