In front of a raucous home crowd, six Tiger seniors””three men and three women””played their final home game in a Trinity uniform.
Both the men and women concluded their regular season with home wins over the Schreiner University Mountaineers.
The Tiger men won their final game of the season 70-66 against Schreiner. They ended the season with a three-game winning streak and finished seventh in conference ahead of Austin College.
Steals and blocks on defense and aggressive play on offense helped the Tigers climb out of an early 14-19 hole to take the lead (20-19) midway through the half.
The first half was very close and the Tigers held a one-point lead going into halftime.
“At halftime, we knew we were outplaying the other team, but we just weren’t getting our shots to fall,” said senior Matt Selling. “In the second half, we knew if we played with the same focus and intensity we would be able to build on our lead.”
The Tigers pushed their lead to 45-39 after a steal and emphatic dunk from sophomore A.J. Pulliam 6 minutes and 15 seconds into the second half.
The Mountaineers kept it close, getting within one point of tying the game midway through the half.
First year Brian Blum gave the Tigers their largest lead of the game (65-58) with under two minutes left after swishing a three-pointer.
Selling led the Tigers, scoring 23 points in his final game as a Tiger hitting 6-14 from the field, 3-9 from three and 8-11 from the free throw line.
First year Matt Jones was also in double-digits scoring 12 points, and Pulliam added 18 points off the bench.
Over the past four years, this group of seniors has a combined 64-47 record””38-20 in conference. They won the conference championship three years in a row prior to this season and advanced as far as the second round of the NCAA playoffs.
“The three straight conference championships were our best accomplishment,” Selling said. “I’m very confident our younger guys can continue that winning tradition.”
The Tiger men finish with a 5-20 overall record and a 4-10 record in conference play.
The third-ranked Tiger women earned a season sweep against Schreiner winning 61-50. It was a key matchup to determine seeding in the conference tournament.
“It was really important to end the regular season on a good note,” said senior Hannah Coley. “We wanted to lock up the three-seed, and carry a win streak into the conference tournament.”
It was a battle from the tip, with players from both teams diving on the floor for loose balls and rebounds.
“That was the most physical game we’ve played all season,” said women’s head coach Cameron Hill. “Their aggression fueled our focus and almost counter-productively cost them the game, because when they started getting physical with us, we really turned it on.”
The Tigers had the advantage in the paint throughout the game.
They outscored the Mountaineers 20-6, feeding senior Taylor Hollins and junior Anecia Richardson the ball in the paint throughout.
It was close at halftime with the Tigers holding the slight 22-21 lead.
The lead blossomed to 10 points for the Tigers with 3 minutes 25 seconds left in the game. With under a minute left they extended the lead to 56-43.
The Tigers played harassing defense throughout, getting 11 steals and holding the Mountaineers to 32.7 percent shooting in the game.
All three senior players finished with double-digits for the Tigers.
“Those three girls have epitomized what being leaders and being great teammates means,” Hill said. “They’re just tremendous young ladies””they’ve done beyond an exceptional job for us this year.”
Coley scored 10 points, going 3-10 from the field, 2-6 from beyond the arc, as well as grabbing eight rebounds. Hollins scored 12 points going 4-8 from the field, 4-5 from the line, along with nine rebounds. Senior Lauren Splawn added 12 points shooting 3-7 from the field and 5-5 from the free-throw line.
Richardson was a force throughout the game. She scored a team high 15 points””many of them coming from layups or foul shots.
Over the past four seasons the Trinity seniors had an overall record of 71-35 and a conference record of 42-13″”including an undefeated season in conference in 2012-13, their only conference championship and only trip to the NCAA tournament.
“I think winning the conference championship my sophomore year was my greatest on-the-court memory, and hopefully we can recreate that this year,” Coley said.
The Tiger women finish the regular season with an overall record of 20-5 and a conference record of 11-3. They earned a share of the regular season conference title, and enter the conference tournament in Irving, Texas, as the three-seed behind Southwestern University and Texas Lutheran University, respectively.
They will play their first-round game 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 against Austin College””they are 2-0 against the Roos this season. If they win they will advance to play the second seeded TLU at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28″”they split games against TLU this season. The championship game will be contested at noon Sunday, March 1.