The Tiger men’s basketball team had its six-game winning streak snapped in a 75-57 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference loss at Centenary College on Friday, Feb. 7th, but bounced back a 79-63 win over an Austin College SCAC game on Saturday, Feb. 8th.
Trinity fell to 13-8 on the season with the loss, though the team still holds the top spot in conference standings with an 8-2 SCAC mark. Centenary came into the weekend tied for second in the league, and improves to 12-8, 7-3 with the win.
“I’m not putting too much into the winning streak. It’s nice to have some momentum going into games, but it’s really about how mentally prepared we come to play and executing on the offensive and defensive ends. I’m optimistic about the rest of our games. I think we are making strides and playing better, but we have put emphasis on becoming a better rebounding team,” said senior guard Robert Kitzinger.
The Tigers also settle for a regular season series split with the Gents, after winning an 82-61 game over Centenary earlier this season.
Trinity suffered through a 9-28 (32.1 percent) shooting performance in the second half, which allowed Centenary to pull away midway through the period. The Gents led 40-32 at the half, as both teams shot better than 50 percent from the field.
Early in the game, the Tigers were up by seven points, but Centenary rallied to take its first lead (25-24) with 5:34 remaining until the break, and then used a 9-1 spurt shortly after to lead 36-29 in the final minutes.
Trinity got to within three points a couple of times early in the second half, but Centenary had the lead up to 12 points with 12:27 left in the game, and the Tigers would get no closer the rest of the way.
Kitzinger led Trinity with 12 points on 5-9 shooting, hitting 2-4 from three-point range, and adding four rebounds and three assists.
Sophomore guard Jimmy Clark came off the bench with 10 points in just 15 minutes of action, connecting on 5-6 from the field. Junior guard William Young added seven points for the Tigers, while senior guard Joe Shotland and junior guard Matt Selling chipped in with six points each.
“We have been playing better of late. That is always a good thing. We are now working at continuing this consistency of effort and performance. Yes, we are very hopeful that we can continue to play well and be at our best for the conference tournament. With that, we would like to have the best regular season conference record, and then win the SCAC Tournament,” said head men’s basketball coach Pat Cunningham.
After the win on Saturday, SCAC standings had the Tigers leading Centenary by one game, while Austin College dropped to 7-13 and 3-8 SCAC.
The Tigers led 38-28 at halftime, after leading by as much as 16 points (38-22) late in the period. Trinity led by as many as 26 points (59-33) in the second half of the lopsided win.
Kitzinger paced the Tigers in Saturday’s game with an 18-point performance, shooting 5-10 from the field, 2-6 in 3-point range, and sinking 6-6 free throws. Jonathan Wilt contributed 10 points, hitting 5-8 shots, and grabbing five rebounds.
Senior post John LaVanway scored nine points, and led the Tigers with seven rebounds. Young shelled out four assists. The Tigers committed just five turnovers in the game, forcing 16 by the Kangaroos.
“Ultimately, our goal is to advance in the NCAA tournament and win that championship, but right now our goal is to win our conference championship again. We are excited about the direction we are headed in and looking forward to keeping the momentum in February,” LaVanway said.
Trinity continues its SCAC campaign next Friday in Seguin, in a game against Texas Lutheran University. The Tigers then face Schreiner University on Saturday evening in Kerrville. The Tigers will have just three regular-season games remaining after the weekend, followed by the SCAC tournament. Trinity will host the tournament for the first time this year, beginning on Feb. 28.