The Trinity Western Spartans are well-known for their fast-paced offensive style, but it was their defence that earned them an 85-68 victory over the UNBC Timberwolves on opening night, holding the TWolves to 29 second-half points on Friday in Prince George.
In the first quarter, TWU got out to a fast start, using Tre Fillmore’s hot hand to jump out to an early lead. The shooting guard went five-for-five in the quarter, as the Spartans stretched their lead to 13 in the opening frame. UNBC would settle down, leaning on third-year guard Micah Jessie to attack the rim, and the quarter ended 24-15 TWU.
The Timberwolves found their rhythm in the second quarter, with Fareed Shittu, Darren Hunter, and Jackson Netzel all making treys in the frame. UNBC captain Chris Ross had the unenviable task of trying to slow TWU’s dynamic lead ballhandler Mason Bouricer, and the North Van product was doing just enough to take Bourcier off his game offensively. A thunderous Shittu slam was an exclamation mark at the end of the quarter, and the half ended 42-39 in favour of Trinity.
Trevor Pridie must have lit a fire under his team at halftime, because their defensive focus was evident after halftime. The Timberwolves shooters went cold, going just 6-for-19 over the ten minutes, good for 31.6%, while the Spartans hit on 55.6 per cent of their 18 attempts. UNBC point guard Darren Hunter did well to try to keep the TWolves in it with his drive-and-kicks earning the home team some good looks, but nothing would fall. The Spartans won the quarter 23-16, and stretched their advantage to 65-55.
Micah Jessie was ultra-assertive for the Timberwolves in the final quarter, as the American scorer commanded plenty of attention from the Spartan defenders. But the fourth quarter looked a lot like the third for UNBC; missed opportunities in the paint and from outside, as time became their enemy.
Eventually, the buzzer sounded, and the Spartans had completed the 85-68 win over the Timberwolves to open the Canada West season.
Six Spartans scored in double figures, as Fillmore, Bourcier, Vlad Mihaila, Connor Platz, David Mutabazi, and Juice Belvin all reached the mark. Bourcier was his usual effective self, adding 10 assists and seven rebounds in 39 minutes.
For UNBC, it was Jessie leading the way with 23 points and eight boards, while Hunter chipped in with 14 points and four assists, and Ledoux added 14 points and five rebounds.
The two teams will clash again on Saturday night at the Northern Sport Centre at 6 p.m.
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