Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, British Columbia – Trinity Western's Tessa Ratzlaff (Abbotsford, B.C.) made an emphatic return to the court, as the fifth-year forward scored 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Spartans to a 60-57 win over Winnipeg.
Returning from injury, and having not played in nearly two months, Ratzlaff led the Spartans to a key win that improved their record to 8-3 on the year. Winnipeg drops to 4-9.
With TWU trailing 55-52 with less than two minutes to play, Spartans fifth-year guard Jessie Brown (Langley) nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Spartans a 58-55 lead with 46.5 seconds to play. A Robyn Boulanger lay-up brought Winnipeg back within a point, 58-57, but free throws from Ratzlaff sealed the win.
Boulanger threw up a pair of 3-point attempts late but both came up wanting.
TWU's Sarah Buckingham (Langley) finished with 11 points, while Kianna Wiens (Regina) had 10 rebounds and five points. Simran Grewal (Surrey, B.C.) had a career night on the glass, collecting nine rebounds.
Winnipeg's Faith Hezekiah led the Wesmen with 20 points to go with eight rebounds, while Boulanger had 16 points. Mikalya Funk had a team-high 13 rebounds.
The Spartan out-rebounded Winnipeg 56-40, but committed 24 turnovers to Winnipeg's 11.
On the strength of six points from both Hezekiah and Jessica Dyck, the Wesmen took an 18-16 lead through the first 10 minutes in a quarter that saw TWU shoot 35.7 per cent to Winnipeg's 35 per cent.
In the second quarter, Ratzlaff tallied eight points to help her team to a 34-26 lead at the break. With TWU outscoring the Wesmen 18-8 in the quarter, Ratzlaff led the Spartans with 14 points at halftime.
The Spartans pushed its lead to as much as 13 points, at 41-28, only to see Winnipeg respond in impressive fashion, rallying to take a 44-43 lead by the end of the frame. Boulanger had eight points in the quarter to lead Winnipeg. Ratzlaff had another seven for 21 points through three quarters.
With momentum in their corner, the Wesmen extended their advantage to 48-43 early in the fourth quarter, but the Spartans roared back with an 8-0 run to take a 51-48 lead.
However, Winnipeg crawled back ahead, 55-52, before Brown went to work late.
Cheryl Jean-Paul – TWU Coach
"There are so many ways to win a game and we haven't had to play this type of game for a long time. It's kind of nice to see our team regain its cool after losing it a few times in that fourth quarter. It was really nice to see some players hit some big shots in that moment when we needed it. But the challenge for tomorrow is that we shouldn't have to wait for things to get dire before our guards rebound offensive boards or our players put their bodies on the line to get defensive stops. But a win is a win and we have to be okay with that."
On Ratzlaff's return to the floor
"Having Tessa back is a big part of who we are this season. Our opportunity now is to try to figure out how to bring what she does into what other people have learned how to do while she was gone. We know that we have multiple players who can have big games and now my challenge as a coach is to help us get back to the point where we have multiple players scoring a lot of points. But again, a win is a win and for Tessa to have this kind of game in her first game back is a confidence booster and we're only going to get better as players learn how to play with her again."
• TWU shot 32.8 per cent (21-64) from the field, while Winnipeg shot 29.3 per cent (22-75)
• After dropping three straight games in mid-November, the Spartans have earned back-to-back victories, having picked up a road win over Victoria to end the fall semester.
• Ratzlaff returned to the court for the first time since leaving TWU's game against Mount Royal Nov. 10.
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.