By Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, B.C. – Trinity Western's Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.) had 25 points and eight rebounds to lead the Spartans to an 81-62 win over UBC Okanagan in their season-opener Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
The game swung in the Spartans favour midway through the second quarter, with the Spartans shooting 68.8 per cent in the quarter (11-16) and taking control of the contest en route to a convincing win.
The Spartans Sarah Buckingham (Surrey, B.C.) had a career-high 19 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists, while Jessie Brown (Langley) added 14 points.
Jordan Korol countered with 16 points and 10 boards for the Heat, with Vanessa Botteselle adding 15 points and six rebounds.
After UBCO held a 25-21 lead through 10 minutes, the Spartans outscored the visitors 60-37 over the final three quarters.
After the Spartans jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, the Heat took momentum right back midway through the first quarter before earning a 25-21 lead through the opening frame.
With TWU 33-30 launched a game-changing run with a lay-up from Brown midway through the quarter. The Spartans went on to tally 17 straight points to take a 47-33 lead. A late push from the Heat closed the gap to nine points, 47-38, at halftime.
For TWU, Ratzlaff (13), Buckingham (12) and Brown (11) each hit double digits in points through 20 minutes. The Heat's Korol (12) and Botteselle (11) responded with double-digit point totals for UBCO.
The third quarter saw TWU shoot 50 per cent (7-14) from the field, while holding the Heat to 21.1 per cent shooting (4-19) as the Spartans extended their lead to 16 points, 67-51.
In a low-scoring final frame, the Spartans edged the Heat 14-11 over the last 10 minutes.
UBCO finished the night with just seven turnovers to TWU's 13.
The Spartan shot 52.5 per cent from the field, while holding UBCO to 31.4 per cent. The Spartans were 7 for 15 from 3-point range, while UBCO was just 5 for 24.
"That was a good start to the season for us. We had a lot of really tough match-ups in the preseason and that revealed a lot of weaknesses for us on both sides of the ball. It was really nice to see our team find their rhythm offensively. We've talked a lot about defence having to win games for us and I don't think we showed that in the first quarter. I think we started to have a better understanding of that over the remainder of the game. And our offence then came from good defensive stops.
"We have lots of things to work on, but it's so important to get that first win and get rewarded for the things we did right. But now, every night we start back at 0-0 and you have to earn the next one and the next one."
• Buckingham's previous career-high for points was 15, which she earned twice last year – once each against UNBC and UFV.
• TWU beat the Heat twice last year in preseason action (68-57 and 74-45).
• The last time these two teams played in the regular season was in 2016-17, when TWU took both contests, winning 68-60 and 71-63 in Kelowna, B.C.
• The last time TWU hosted the Heat was in 2013-14, with the teams splitting an early-January series.
• The Spartans finished third in the Canada West standings in 2017-18 with a 16-4 record before finishing a program-best fourth in the Canada West playoffs.
• Last year, TWU averaged 70.5 points per game on offence (6th in CW), while allowing 64.3 points per game (6th in CW).
The Spartans and Heat play the rematch Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT) at the LEC.
Recognized for quality, TWU has received seven consecutive A+ rankings for Quality of Teaching and Learning, holds three Canada Research Chairs, and wins national championships in CIS sports. More importantly, lives are changed at TWU through its whole-person, Christ-centred approach to education. With a wide array of undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree-completion programs, TWU equips leaders of character and competence to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
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.