From the start, the weekend was filled with drama from the start for the Tigers. After a close overtime loss to Centenary Friday night, they came out Saturday and blasted Colorado College for a 20-point win to secure their first win in conference play.
On Friday, Jan. 23, they fell to Centenary in overtime, 79-74.
The Tigers scored early and often in the first half, jumping out to a 24-4 lead to start the game. They shot 56 percent from the field and were 5-10 from behind the arc and led 45-29 at the half.
“We were doing a good job of beating their press, which led to a few easy baskets,” said senior guard Matt Selling.
The tables turned in the second half, however, as the Tigers were held to 38 percent shooting and let Centenary shoot 55 percent from the field. In that half of play they were outscored 25-41.
“Going into the game we knew their strengths, and I didn’t think in the second half we really took those things away from them as planned,” said assistant coach Ross Burt.
In the overtime period, the Tigers were outscored 9-4, and were especially hurt from the free-throw line where Centenary went 5-9 and the Tigers did not have a single attempt.
Trinity had 32 fouls, which gave Centenary 43 free-throw attempts in the game; this led to 30 of their 79 points.
“We got caught reaching and trying to block shots so they got to the line a lot,” said senior guard Craig Saltarelli. “When we’re playing with the lead we definitely don’t want to stop the clock and send them to the line.”
Sophomore forward A.J. Pulliam and first-year guard Brian Blum were the only Tigers in double figures in the game with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The Tigers have played two overtime games at home the past two weekends, and came up short in both contests; both games were also against two of the top teams in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. It was the first time since the 2000-2001 season that the Tigers have lost back-to-back overtime games.
Saturday, Jan. 24, they beat Colorado College 74-54 at home to snap a seven-game losing streak and earn their first win in SCAC conference play.
“We would have stretches where we would go on a little bit of a run, and as we saw the night before those stretches could go away really quick if we let them get into run,” Burt said. “Our guys played a complete 40 minutes””maybe for the first time all season.”
For much of the first half the score was close””no more than a five-point lead for either team. Then in the final two minutes of the half, Trinity extended a one-point lead to nine (42-33). In that half they shot 65 percent from the field.
“Playing with a lead can be dangerous,” Selling said. “Against Colorado College we wanted to continue with what had gotten us the lead early on, and that was being aggressive.”
Colorado College closed the lead to three points early in the second period, but Trinity used an 18-5 run to extend the lead to 68-51 with just over five minutes left in the game.
Pulliam finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-13 shooting from the field with two rebounds, three blocked shots and 3-3 from behind the arc.Blum and Selling also finished in double digits for the Tigers with 13 points each.
First-year guard Matt Jones dished out a game-high nine assists, and senior guard William Young also contributed four assists. Young is just one assist shy of tying Trinity’s career record.
“Getting this conference win definitely gives us confidence as we finish the rest of the season,” Saltarelli said. “We have as much talent as anyone in the conference and this proves we can beat any team we play from here on.”
The Tigers improve to 2-16 overall and 1-6 in conference play after splitting the games this weekend.
The Tigers are away next weekend. At 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30 they face Centenary in Shreveport, La. At 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, they go to Colorado Springs, Colo., to play Colorado College.