Back-to-back victories have the Trinity Western Spartans in sole possession of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Canada West Pacific Division.
The men’s basketball team took care of business at the Langley Events Centre over the weekend, knocking off the Mount Royal Cougars 84-78 on Friday and 86-69 on Saturday.
The victories improved Trinity Western to 7-9 with six games remaining in the regular season.
In Saturday’s win, the Spartans used a strong second and third quarter — they outscored the Cougars 49-29 — to post the 17-point victory.
“I don’t think we’ve had a game where we felt that much in control for quite some time,” said coach Scott Allen.
“It’s nice for the guys who have worked so hard this year to have a game like this.
“We persevered through some tough times during the game.”
A big key to the game was rebounding as Trinity Western held a 57-38 advantage, including hauling down 22 offensive boards.
The team was led by Tristan Smith, who had 18 points, four steals, four assists and five rebounds. Denny McDonald added 17 points and eight rebounds while Justin Bakuteka had 13 points and three steals.
“I thought Justin was fantastic and he gave us a new scoring look, which took the pressure off other guys,” Allen said.
“We executed our game plan well; we made their non-shooters shoot the ball and we forced Mount Royal into playing in a way they weren’t comfortable with.”
Friday’s game was much closer with the Spartans needing a fourth-quarter rally to earn the victory.
Trailing by 10 points, the team closed the game on a 27-11 run to win by six points.
Tonner Jackson led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds while Mark Perrin had 20 points and six boards.
The Spartans can take a big step towards qualifying for the post-season as they travel to Kamloops this weekend for a pair of games against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack (6-11), who are a game and a half behind Trinity Western for the fourth and final playoff berth.