Trinity women’s basketball rolls through competition

Tigers win both games by over 20 to stay undefeated in SCAC competition

Sophomores Ava Limonciello and Maggie Robbins line up as junior Maggie Shipley prepares make a free-throw.

The Trinity Tigers women’s basketball team blasted through their weekend games, scoring over 70 points in both contests against conference opponents. The doubleheader weekend featured Trinity taking on Centenary College (3-16) on Saturday, Feb. 5 with Austin College (6-12) coming to town on Sunday afternoon.

According to head coach Cameron Hill, the big games over the weekend showed the team’s progress throughout the season and their pursuit for perfection.

“I think any one of our players sitting here right now will tell you that we can still be better,” Coach Hill said. “We’ve improved incrementally on little things the entire season. The pursuit of perfection will always allow for baby steps along the way. We’re a much better shooting team than our three-point field goal percentage would indicate, and it’s only going to be a matter of time before we blow it open one day, and all our shooters make shots in the same game. You’re looking at a team that has a chance to do something really special.”

Heading into the Saturday afternoon matchup, Trinity had an undefeated record at home and in the SCAC, and they continued a 15-game win streak after a close start. However, according to Coach Hill, the big streak isn’t the highest priority for the team.

“The winning streak is fun to write about, and it’s something for the record books, but at the end of the day for us, we need to continue to focus on the next challenge. It’s cool, and it’s a nice accomplishment, but continuing to win is absolutely the priority.”

Both teams exchanged the lead early in the first quarter after back-to-back three-pointers by Centenary, but Trinity quickly regained the lead. The Tigers held the advantage entering the quarter break, 17-10. This lead gave Trinity the advantage even after Centenary ended up out-scoring Trinity in the second quarter. The halftime score remained in Trinity’s favor at 34-32.

The second half was nothing short of pure domination, with the Tigers going on a 17-0 run to start the third quarter. Centenary ultimately ended Trinity’s streak five-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter, but the Tigers kept their foot on the gas pedal. Trinity eventually finished the third quarter with 32 points while only allowing nine to slip through over the entire quarter, extending their lead to 66-41 by the buzzer. Overall, the Tigers went 12-26 from the field throughout the quarter, with junior Maggie Shipley (11 points) and senior Hailey Coleman (10 points) leading the way for scoring.

The rout continued in the fourth quarter, even as Centenary finally scored their 10th point of the half thanks to a free throw from Jazzmyn Jones. The Tigers continued to apply pressure, at one point extending their lead to 36 points before easing off as time ran down. Centenary could not recover from a bad third quarter and continued to struggle in the fourth with only seven points. Meanwhile, Trinity scored 18 in the final period, finishing the game with an 84-48 victory over the Centenary Ladies.

Overall, the Tigers went 33 for 82, and 10 for 34 from outside the three-point line. The victory maintained an undefeated home record and an undefeated SCAC record, moving the Tigers’ overall performance on the season to a 17-2 record. It also marked Trinity’s fifth win by over 30 points and the lowest opponent point total since Jan. 12 when the Tigers beat UT-Dallas 91-48.

“Centenary is kind of constantly an unknown,” Coach Hill said. “You can look at their record and their statistics and tell what kind of team they are, but you never really know what version of that team is going to show up. We kind of used the first half to figure out what version of Centenary would be there, and then we made adjustments at halftime once the girls knew. Once they know, they’re going to give their best for that particular matchup, which is why I think we kind of blew it open in the third quarter.”

However, the work for Trinity wasn’t over yet. Due to icy conditions on Friday, the matchup against area rival Austin College was pushed back to Sunday, and Trinity came out swinging. Entering on a new 16-game winning streak, Trinity’s 17-2 record considerably outmatched Austin’s 6-12. Along with the added motivation for a SCAC conference game, the Trinity-Austin rivalry always results in fierce competition.

“Austin has been a great rivalry for us,” Coach Hill said, commenting on the teams’ drive going into the matchup. “Our players look at that game, no matter how they’re playing or who’s on the team. It’s always a game they’re really dialed in for.”

The Tigers won the tip-off and kept their foot on the gas from the start, reaching an 8-0 lead before Austin’s first basket. After the first few scores, Trinity would go on another big run, utilizing a shutdown defense to get big plays off turnovers. Coleman in particular was incredibly efficient down low and was able to use her height to her advantage in scoring contested shots in the paint. Trinity ultimately led 28-8 after the first quarter despite some foul trouble for sophomore Maggie Robbins.

The energy during the game was much higher than in the previous day, and it was evident that the rivalry was in full effect as Trinity continued to roll through the remainder of the first half. The Tigers ultimately finished the first half with a 41-18 lead, which they never let go of.

Miscommunication continued to plague Austin as they struggled to get anything going, and Trinity capitalized on turnovers to keep the ball to start the third. The Tigers scored 10 points in the first minute of the third but soon cooled off to a more level pace. An almost 3-minute scoreless drought was finally broken by sophomore Ava Limonciello, who nailed a three-pointer to extend the lead further. Austin mounted a comeback towards the end of the quarter but was still outscored by the end, as the game entered the final quarter with the Tigers leading 63-34.

Although Trinity found themselves outscored in the fourth quarter, Austin couldn’t come back from the whopping halftime deficit. The 74-51 victory is Trinity’s 18th win of the season, further solidifying their position at the top of the SCAC rankings. The Tigers ended up sweeping both games against Austin, as this was a rematch for the Dec. 17 game earlier this season, where Trinity won 70-58 on the road.

Coach Hill was happy with the performance post-game, citing the rivalry as an added advantage to the Tigers’ victory on Sunday.

“Austin is always a game that the players are really dialed in for, which I think that first quarter was straight from the heart. That was the effort they were going to give Austin. They wanted to see if Austin could match our intensity, and clearly, they weren’t able to do so,” Hill said.

Overall, the weekend was perfect for Trinity, who will host their final three home games this week. Tuesday (Feb. 15) sees Trinity hosting Schreiner (11-10; third in SCAC), while Wednesday has Texas Lutheran (12-6; second in SCAC) coming to town for a conference rematch. The final home game of the season will be on Saturday, Feb. 12, when Trinity will host Southwestern (9-10; sixth in SCAC).