The #1 Saskatchewan Huskies got 36 points from team captain Jamelle Barrett (Rancho Cordova, CA) on their way to a 98-83 home victory over the #4 Trinity Western Spartans to claim a 1-0 lead in the their 2012 best-of-three Canada West Men’s basketball playoff series.
Barrett ended the first and second quarters with buzzer beating shots and added seven rebounds, nine assists while playing the entire 40 minutes.
The Huskies got off to a fast 28-16 start after the first ten minutes, but struggled with turnovers in the second-quarter as the Spartans answered back to tie the game at 44-44 after two well played quarters.
Spartans back-court duo of Calvin Westbrook and Tristan Smith connected on two early jumpers to put TWU in front at 48-44 in what would eventually become their last lead of the game. The Huskies closed out the quarter by outscoring Trinity Western 26-16 and grabbed a four-point lead at 68-64.
Huskies Second-Year Guard Ben Baker (10 points, 4/5 shooting) returned from a nasty first-half injury to the head to score the first six points of the all-important fourth-quarter and Jamelle Barrett added straight eight points to put the game out of reach and kill an buzz of an upset.
Kyle Coston was back to his old-self and came off the bench to lead Trinity Western with a team-high 25 points on 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Fifth-year, transfer Sean Peter (Ottawa, ON) had the hot hand in the first-half and finished 16 points and a team-high 9 rebounds in the losing effort.
Trinity Western forced 16 steals and caused Saskatchewan to turn the ball over 24 times.
Michael Lieffers (12 points, 9 rebounds) helped the bigger and deeper Huskies pounded TWU on the boards with a wide 46-29 advantage.
Game two of the best-of-three series goes tomorrow, and a Huskies win will ensure them the right of hosting the schools first-ever Canada West Men’s Basketball Final Four.