A momentum-changing dunk from Denny McDonald launched the Trinity Western Spartans on a 14-0 run which helped them seize control against the Fraser Valley Cascades.
The Cascades were up 59-54 early in the fourth quarter but McDonald’s dunk changed momentum as the Spartans won 74-61 on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre in the Canada West men’s basketball regular season finale.
The win improved Trinity Western to 12-10 and gave them third spot in the Pacific Division while Fraser Valley, which had beat the Spartans 69-58 in Abbotsford the night before, finishes at 10-12 and in fourth spot.
Both teams qualified for the post-season but a Saturday loss would have relegated TWU to fourth spot.
The game was a tale of two halves: the Spartans out-scored the Cascades 45-14 in the first and fourth quarters, while Fraser Valley dominated the middle two periods 47-29.
“I think we worked hard all year and we challenged our guys to play four quarters this year,” said Spartans coach Scott Allen.
“I’m not sure if we we did exactly that tonight, but in the fourth quarter, we played well.”
“With UFV playing four of their starters for the full 40 minutes, for us to match up with that with our younger guys is pretty tough,” the coach added.
“So our starters had to gut it out and play more minutes and I think we saw that they responded well.”
Trinity Western had four players score in double figures, led by Mark Perrin’s 17.
Tristan Smith, playing in his final home game, had 16 points, while McDonald had 14 and Tyler Lintell added 13. McDonald also grabbed 11 rebounds, while Smith had six assists versus just one turnover.
A big difference in the game was shooting as the Spartans shot 47.3 per cent from the field compared to 34.9 per cent for the visitors.
That was in stark contrast to the night before when the roles were reversed with Fraser Valley hitting nearly 42 per cent of their shots, including 11-of-23 (47.8 per cent) of their three-point attempts. In that game, the Spartans shot 33.9 per cent.
Tonner Jackson and Mark Perrin were the lone TWU players to hit double figures, scoring 10 points apiece.
The Spartans were done in by a poor second quarter, as they were out-scored 23-9 in the period. Prior to that, they led 23-17.
The Spartans travel to Winnipeg for a Canada West best-of-three quarter-final playoff series.
The Wesmen, who finished second in the Prairie Division at 14-8, beat Trinity Western 76-56 in their lone meeting this season, which came back in November.
“It’s a brand new season,” Allen said about the playoffs.
“We have a hard road ahead of ourselves, with travel and playing in a foreign gym. It’ll be tough but I like our chances with how the guys are playing right now.”
Trinity Western has won seven of its past eight games.