Women lose in Sweet Sixteen

Photo by Ozvaldo Veloz

Photo by Ozvaldo Veloz

Trinity women’s basketball capped off a historically successful season this year by making it to the round of 16 at the NCAA tournament. The seventh ranked Trinity team started strong in the post season playoffs by eliminating Hendrix in the first round. In the first quarter of play, the Tiger defense held the Warriors to less than 40 percent scoring, while scoring themselves more than 50 percent.

“Hendrix played hard, they are a good team,” said senior Monica Holguin. “It was about wanting to win more than they did. We stayed poised and never gave them the opportunity to take control.”

The Warriors picked up speed throughout the half, and in the whole of the first half, both teams shot at 60 perceent. The Warriors gained their first lead at the start of the third quarter, but a strong fourth quarter performance by the Tigers earned Trinity a place in the second round of the playoffs.  

“[Hendrix] played harder than any team we have played all season. They challenged us the entire game. They made huge plays and they made us self evaluate. Once we came to grips with the fact that we were going to have to earn this win, we did,” said head women’s basketball coach Cameron Hill. “That is March, you have to earn every win.”

Despite smart defense on the part of Hendrix as well as excellent performances on the part of Sara Dyslin, the Tigers proved their ability to hold their own in the NCAA tournament, defeating Hendrix 77-66 in the opener.

“It’s difficult for teams to guard us because we have so many different weapons,” junior Micah Weaver said. “Hendrix came out that night covering Monica and Allison really well since they present such a strong offensive threat which ended up leaving me open at guard.”

Continuing the weekend at the University of Texas at Dallas, the UTD Comets fell to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, leaving Trinity to face off against CMS for a place in the NCAA tournament round of 16. Trinity came out of the gate strong against Claremont-M-S, ending the first quarter up 18, the score 18-26.

“Claremont was aggressive on both ends of the floor from start to finish,” Weaver said. “They had a lot of height and were loaded with experienced seniors which always makes things a little more difficult. We were able to make key adjustments late in the game that helped us secure some huge stops that put us ahead for good.”

Claremont Athena’s gained steam throughout the second quarter and the start of the third, but Trinity never allowed the Athenas to take the lead, ending the game with a score of 66-77 in favor of the Tigers. Despite the defensive prowess of the Athenas, TU managed to earn their spot in the round of 16.

“We played with supreme confidence in the Claremont game,” Hill said. “Getting out of the first round, playing the first game and being able to watch the second game and really dig into what both potential opponents do well, really helped.  Even when they made runs, we responded with solid team possessions.  Our ball movement and our defensive intensity was sharp.  Our girls did a great job taking their top performers and making other players make plays.”

In the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, basketball teams play back to back games. Not all conferences play in this manner. It was the stamina gained from back to backs that Hill believes made a huge difference in the final outcome of the game against Claremont.

“Being in rhythm in any sport is key. We play back to backs all season long, so our team understands the demand on your body, they way we need to rotate players to save legs when we can, and how we can change how we play on offense to make sure we are fresh for day two,” Hill said, “We are a very aggressive team, and we make you play fast, and I really think we were able to wear Claremont down in the first half and get control in the second half.  It was not the determining factor in the game, but it was a factor for sure.”

The women boarded the plane for St. Paul, Minnesota for the sweet sixteen competition against Whittman College of Washington.

“The most exciting part was knowing that we had one more week as Together Tigers,” Holguin said.

The Tigers started the game strong and with a lot of energy. At the half, Whitman led by one point. After returning from the half, the Blues stormed ahead, upping the score. The game was highly defensive on both sides of the court, and despite a strong performance from Micah Weaver, Trinity fell to the Blues, completing a historic season of Trinity basketball.

“This season was really a culmination of the last five years of work.  Recruiting through a coaching transition takes time, we have been so fortunate to have had great players along the way, but this was the first team that was completely built by the current coaching staff, and I think it is a fabulous reflection of what our former players have meant to our process of building this program.  This team broke so many records, made history in a lot of ways, and because of that, and obviously the personal relationships that are so meaningful, this team will live into Trinity Women’s Basketball history.”

Not only was the season one of historical proportions but it was also one that meant a lot to the players.

“I love everything about being a Trinity Tiger. Having played for another collegiate team during my freshman and sophomore year, I can say the greatest thing I have gained is pride in the university and team I’m playing for,” Weaver said. “I love every single person on this team and I’m just extremely proud to have been apart of a record-breaking season with such a special group.”

“By far the best season of basketball I have ever been a part of. It is one that I will remember for a long long time. I couldn’t be happier with the effort from my teammates and the incredible coaching staff,” Holguin said.

From the beginning of this season, the team has focussed on playing one game at a time, something they did till the very end, never quitting and getting Trinity basketball to the farthest point in the tournament in over a decade. Game after game, the Trinity women’s basketball team played the game they loved with the people they loved and gave us a team of which we can all be proud.

“They walked the walk,” Hill said. “They never backed down from a moment.  They had incredible poise under pressure all season.  We lost two games this year, both came at the end of 14 game winning streaks.  They played every weekend of the year, except for one.  They defined what we have worked so hard to build here. Yeah, pretty proud. Together Tigers!”