The women’s basketball team tasted sweet victory this past weekend, winning the SCAC championship The Tigers finished the regular season with the best record in the conference. This allowed them to start the SCAC championship tournament with a first round bye. In the first round, the Southwestern University Pirates defeated the Schreiner University Mountaineers. The Mountaineers moved on to face the Trinity Tigers. As travel partners, Trinity has beat Schreiner every time they met this season, and this weekend was no exception.
“It was the third time in a row we’d played them,” said senior Allison Staley. “We kind of knew their tendencies and what they wanted to do so I think it was kind of easy for us to get control of the game fairly quickly.”
As they moved into the championship game, the Tigers found themselves facing off against Texas Lutheran University (TLU), the only team to whom Trinity has managed to lose to this entire season.
“It was an unreal feeling getting to play TLU in the conference championship,” said senior Elizabeth Balido. “They were our only loss and we were that much more excited to play against them and show the conference that our loss was just a fluke and that we are a much stronger team since then.”
“They were not gonna let up. It was their chance to end our season,” Staley said. “They were gonna come out ready to play, you know, guns blazing. We just had to make sure we countered that and came out and played cool headed and just play the game that we’ve been playing all season.”
TLU came out strong, dominating the first quarter.
“At the start we knew TLU was going to come out emotional so all we had to do was weather that storm and come back with our own emotional game,” Balido said.
We were kind of playing catch up the first half or just trying at least to stay even,” Staley said. “They had control the whole first half. It was like they couldn’t miss.”
Going into halftime, TLU still led, but only by one point, as the Tigers had picked up steam.
“It was so positive in the locker room,” Staley said. “Everyone goes in there and we’re like, “˜We’re definitely not losing this game. We’re gonna go back out and do what we need to do.'”
Trinity came back out of the locker room and completely dominated, winning the game and the SCAC championship with a score of 78-67.
“It’s amazing to clinch our school’s first back-to-back conference championship for the women’s team,” Balido said. “It was just a great cap to our amazing regular season and kind of a motivating factor into these next games
As they head into the NCAA tournament, women’s basketball plans to continue playing, as they have all season, moment by moment. Playing “one game at a time” has become a focus of the team this season.
“Especially as the games went on and we realized we were winning more and more that became something we wanted to focus on. You know, who cares about the record? You got to focus on this game and win this game and then focus on the next one,” Staley said. “My goal is just go one game farther and anything after that is just a cherry on top.”
Meanwhile, the men’s season ended with a loss to the Southwestern University Pirates, whom they had defeated twice earlier in the season.
“In this game we seemed to have lost our hunger. The first two times [playing Southwestern] we came out ready to go and played really hard from the tip but in this one we seemed complacent to start the second half,” said junior Matt Jones. “They just came out and played harder.”
While Trinity began strong, leading the Pirates at the half, the Tigers lost steam in the second half of the game.
“We came out in the second half with low energy and they came out hustling,” said junior Jayden Holden. “They were getting what seemed to be every loose ball and made a run to start the half. We knew that if could weather the storm that we could come back. However, we stopped the run and they didn’t score for four minutes, but neither did we. We went into a slump and couldn’t break out before it was already too late.”
The Tigers’ main mistake was not valuing the ball, Holden explained, allowing the Pirates to convert easy buckets off of lackadaisical Tiger turnovers.
“We didn’t value the ball. We came out flat and they came out with a lot more energy which swung the momentum. We committed too many turnovers giving them easy buckets on the other end,” Holden said. “Valuing the ball limits the amount of easy layups we give up on the defensive end. Bringing the energy is crucial to stopping another teams run and turning it into your own.”
Trinity men’s basketball had a significantly better season than they did last year, ending the season with a 12-14 record. The men proved that they have strong players with the potential to continue growing, if they can stay focused.
“From this game I learned that we still need to grow and become mentally stronger as a team,” Jones said. “We have a lot of talent and young guys who will hopefully continue to grow and contribute in bigger and better ways down the line.”
The Tigers are now focused on preparing for next year, by working on their team chemistry.
“[We plan] to come back even stronger by continuing to improve over the offseason individually and grow as a team. We are only graduating two seniors so we will have the opportunity to bring back most of our team from this year,” Holden said. “We definitely have the talent, we just have to put it all together this offseason.”
“T.U. men’s basketball has a lot of work to do this offseason,” Jones said. “We have a lot of hard working, determined guys on this team who want us to be the best we can be. I think you will see a lot of us in the weight room and in the gym this offseason trying to get better and to come back ready next year to take back the SCAC.”