The Trinity University men’s basketball team had four games over the course of the last two weeks. The first was against Keystone College during the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic Division III Hoops Tournament in Owings Mills, Md. on Friday, Nov. 22. The game ended in a victory for the Tigers, with their highest number of points this year, 82-67.
“The Keystone game was completely different for us as a team. We pride ourselves on defense, while Keystone likes to run-and-gun to try and outscore their opponents. It was fun for us to play a very high-tempo game, and we responded very well, winning by a good margin in easily our highest scoring output of the year,” said junior Matt Selling.
The following day, the Tigers played Ohio Wesleyan University in a hard-fought game that ended in a tough loss for the Trinity men, 75-64.
“Both teams played well offensively,” said head coach Pat Cunningham. “Unfortunately, we came up short as Ohio Wesleyan shot well and played offensively but we weren’t able to keep up.”
At halftime, the two teams were tied at 24-24, but the Tigers were down 20-15 at the 8:37 mark. Ohio Wesleyan did not score a basket until there were two minutes left in the half, during Trinity’s run.
During the second half, however, Ohio Wesleyan jumped out to a 35-27 lead. The Tigers closed to within one point, 34-35, with two free throws by Robert Kitzinger with 15 minutes on the clock. Trinity pulled to 47-44 on a basket and free throw by Jonathan Wilt at 10:46. But Ohio Wesleyan, who shot 63 percent in the half, went on a run of their own and led by 14 points, 67-53 at the two-minute mark of the game.
Wilt led the Tigers with 14 points, going 4-9 from the field and sinking 6-6 free throws. Kitzinger added 12 points (4-4 at the line) and a team-leading seven rebounds. In the win over Keystone, Kitzinger became the 24th player in Trinity history to reach 1,000 career points. His performance against Ohio Wesleyan placed him past Tiger assistant coach Ross Burt ‘06 on the all-time scoring list.
The following weekend, the Tiger men played at Mary Hardin-Baylor for a true back-and-forth game, which ended in a loss for Trinity 73-67.
“Mary Hardin-Baylor has been an out-of-conference rival for us the past few years. Two years ago in the NCAA tourney, we beat them, and last year, they beat us in double overtime. This year, it was another close game, but as a team we didn’t play to the best of our abilities. Definitely looking forward to a possible rematch come tournament time,” Selling said.
In their first conference game and their first home game, the Tigers were able to defeat Southwestern University 55-47. The game was a defensive struggle as both teams combined for one point in the first five-and-a-half minutes. At halftime, the Tigers were up 21-14. After the Pirates cut the lead to three, the Tigers made a run to go to a 45-34 lead with seven minutes left to seal the game. Kitzinger finished with a double-double at 21 points and 10 rebounds. The points tied his season high and his rebounds established a new high mark for the year. Selling added 15 points on a perfect 5-5 shooting performance.
While the Trinity men’s basketball team is young, they still have much potential for growth, despite some hard losses early in the year.
“Those games were tough tests that will help us down the road at the end of the season,” said first year Josh Ingram.
Even though the team may not have the record they were hoping for at this point in the season, they have played six out of their seven games away from home. The following two games are also away from home, which can prove to be a difficult challenge for young players who are still figuring themselves out and learning to be part of a team.
The Tigers are now in Chicago, Ill, to face off against Albion University today at 5 p.m. Tomorrow, they will take on the University of Chicago at 3 p.m. The Tigers will next play a home game on Tuesday, Dec. 10, against the University of Texas-Dallas at 6 p.m.