The Alberta Pandas stand in the way of the Trinity Western Spartans and a spot in the Canada West final four.
The TWU women’s basketball team will host their Alberta rivals in a Canada West quarter-final best-of-three series at the Langley Events Centre. Games one and two are both set for 7 p.m. on Feb. 15 and 16, and if necessary, the teams would play a deciding game on Feb. 17, also at 7 p.m.
The Spartans are the No. 3 seed while Alberta is the number six seed. And while TWU earned a weekend off by virtue of being one of the top four seeds during the regular season, the Pandas beat No. 11 Manitoba 81-72 on Saturday in a Canada West play-in game.
Despite coming off a career-best 16-4 season, head coach Cheryl Jean-Paul knows her team will be in tough.
Back in late October, the Spartans and Pandas kicked off their respective Canada West seasons with Alberta winning 68-59 the first night before TWU bounced back with a 63-62 victory of their own.
One big difference is that those games were in Edmonton while this weekend’s playoff series will be in the friendly confines of the LEC, where TWU went 8-1 (overall, they were 10-1 at home, but two of the games were played on campus at the David E. Enarson Gym).
Not having the stress of a win-or-go home game last week and not having to worry about travelling for this week’s series also gives the players more time for preparation.
Jean-Paul also said the experience of losing on the road last year in the quarter-finals to a tough Regina squad was a good learning experience.
“That series taught us a lot about just how everything is amplified and when you get to the next level of playoffs and what you thought was pressure, just increases,” she said.
As for what it will take to advance past their Alberta foes, Jean-Paul said it won’t be anything out of the ordinary.
“Every coach is going to say the exact same thing,” she said.
“But it is really about not trying to do things we haven’t done all year — we just need everybody to be on top of what they specifically have to bring, the non-negotiables.”
By the numbers
The Spartans were the sixth-highest scoring team during the regular season at 70.5 points per game while Alberta was 14th (out of 17) at 63.0 while defensively, the Pandas were fourth surrendering 63.4 points per game and the Spartans sixth, allowing 64.3.
TWU is led offensively by Tessa Ratzlaff at 18.4 points per game (third in conference).