“Elite” Tigers end season with a school record of 27 straight wins

Trinity’s Elite Eight playoff run leaves a season to remember


Scott Burkhalter

Hailey Coleman watches on as Maggie Shipley attempts a layup in Trinity’s 52-39 win over Whitman College.

The Trinity Tigers Women’s Basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Division III Basketball Tournament, earning the achievement after winning games on Friday, March 4, and Saturday, March 5. Both games were close at the end of the first half, but halftime adjustments allowed the Tigers to take control towards the end.

Friday’s game was particularly difficult for the Tigers as they faced the Hardin-Simmons (HSU) Cowgirls. If the name sounds familiar, it should: Hardin-Simmons, which finished the season at 21-4, gave Trinity its second loss of the season when the two sides last faced off in November.

The rematch game started with a solid first quarter for Trinity, which scored 21 in the first 10 minutes. However, HSU never allowed Trinity to forget who the away team was as the Cowgirl crowd was loud as ever all night. Hardin-Simmons came back to even the score at halftime at 27-27 going into the break.

The rest of the game was anything but easy for Trinity as they edged out to a narrow lead going into the final quarter of a game which saw a total of five lead changes. HSU’s 3-point attack allowed them to stay in the game to the very end, but the game was eventually decided thanks to bonus free throws. Clutch free throws from sophomore Maggie Robbins and junior Ashlyn Milton gave Trinity a cushion, which was all they needed in a 61-57 final score.

Both Maggies were crucial to the success on the road, with Maggie Robbins leading the team with 17 points (7-11 FG, 1-2 3pt, 2-5 FT) and junior Maggie Shipley close behind with 15 points (7-13 FG, 0-1 3pt, 1-4 FT). Milton was also key to Trinity’s win as she racked up nine points and iced the game in the final seconds, going 2-2 on her free throws.

A bit over 24 hours after Trinity brought down Hardin-Simmons, they returned to the Mabee Athletic Complex to take on Whitman College. The second-round matchup was one where Trinity looked like an underdog due to the Blues’ 27-1 record.

The Tigers went into the matchup with high hopes but were immediately hit with struggles. Both teams got off to a slow start, with Trinity leading after the first quarter with just a score of 9-6. The second quarter would look more like a football scoreline than a basketball one as both teams again tied heading into the half— this time at 18 points apiece.

Though the Blues traveled in from Washington, the crowd was far from slim, supporting their girls in the playoff tournament atmosphere. However, Trinity blew the doors wide open in the third quarter, breaking out for 20 points in 10 minutes thanks to a shutdown defense. Whitman couldn’t withstand the lockdown pressure of Trinity’s defense, giving up seven turnovers in that period. The Tigers took advantage, breaking out for 20 points in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth, almost tripling the first-half tally. Though Whitman attempted a fourth-quarter comeback with 16 points, the third quarter was enough for the Tigers to lock up a place in the Sweet 16.

Shipley earned a double-double on the day with a team-high 20 points (4-15 FG; 12-15 FT) and 11 rebounds. She also led the team with three assists, making for a game to remember. Milton was critical in the victory as well, knocking down two 3-point shots and 3-4 of her free throws to grab 11 points (3-12 FG, 2-8 3pt, 3-4 FT). Seniors Hailey Coleman and Kelly Simmons were defensive forces for the Tigers, with the pair grabbing six defensive rebounds each (with Simmons snatching three steals as well). Despite a relatively poor shooting day for Trinity (16-55), Whitman struggled more (17-60), leading to the early elimination for the Blues, who made the Sweet 16 in 2020. This is the first time the Tigers have appeared in the Sweet 16 since the 2016-2017 season.

Following rest, the Tigers flew to Amherst, Massachusetts, to take on the Sweet 16. Their opponent, the #1-ranked Christopher Newport Captains, entered the game with a 43-game win streak, but it didn’t matter. Trinity and Newport were close at the start, but the Tigers exploded towards the end of the second quarter- leading by a score of 43-27 at one point before halftime. The half would finish with Trinity leading 47-35, but the Captains still had a fight in them.

Christopher Newport outscored Trinity in both of the final two quarters and made the game close towards the end. A fast-paced offense combined with Trinity going scoreless for the first five minutes of the 4th quarter allowed Newport to close up, and a late 11-0 run drew them within striking distance of the Tigers. The score was at its closest with just 5:30 left in the final quarter when Trinity had just a 63-61 lead, but the Captains were never able to take the lead. After closing the gap to just two points, Christopher Newport missed six straight, allowing the Tigers to expand their lead to the final score of 76-71.

Senior Hailey Coleman was dominant in one of her final performances for Trinity, finishing the day with a career-high 28 points (13-19 FG, 1-1 3pt, 1-1 FT). Ashlyn Milton put in her work as well, scoring 20 points (7-11 FG, 4-8 3pt, 2-2 FT) in the victory. Kelly Simmons was yet again a massive player on the defense, coming up with nine rebounds on the day to help Trinity claim the victory.

Though the Tigers fell in their final match against the host Amherst College (68-79), the game was still productive for a few Tigers. Hailey Coleman finished her final game with a team-leading 17 points (7-11 FG, 1-3 3 pt, 2-2 FT), while Maggie Shipley ended the season close behind with 16 points (6-15 FG, 0-2 3pt, 4-4 FT). Kelly Simmons was crucial not just down low (6 rebounds), but also on offense by scoring 14 points (5-8 FG, 1-2 3pt, 3-4 FT) — tying a season-best she set in December.

Trinity ends the season with a 28-3 final record, wrapping up a 27-game win streak and tying a school record for consecutive wins. Though they lost in the Elite Eight round of the tournament, it was just the second time Trinity had ever made it to the NCAA quarterfinal in school history. The Trinity team set numerous records throughout the year, including a school-record 122 points earlier this year against Schreiner. The final game of the season always stings, not just because only one team more often than not comes up short, but also because of the loss of key seniors. Hailey Coleman, Kelly Simmons, Julia Ackerman, Britney Goodwin and Carly Leong all say goodbye to Trinity after this season, wrapping up excellent collegiate careers.

Season Recap

Coleman finishes her career with 876 points and a 61.1% shooting percentage, ending the season ranked fifth nationally for her shooting this season. Simmons ends her time at Trinity with 685 points (45.4%), but one of her main traits over the last four years has been her defense — finishing with 592 rebounds, 118 steals and 96 blocks. Ackerman, who played in 110 career games, finishes her career third all-time at Trinity for made 3-point shots (175). Her range from outside led to 663 career points, and she ends her time at Trinity with over 2,400 game minutes. Goodwin was more of a quiet name this season, finishing her time at Trinity with only 30 points but taking in 34 rebounds in her four years. Leong puts a wrap on her Tiger career after just two seasons, but she was a reliable player off the bench in most games. She ends a 39-game career with 238 points and 108 rebounds to go along with 29 steals.

Though it may hurt to say goodbye to seniors, the future looks bright for the Tigers, with key contributors still ready to return for next season. Junior Maggie Shipley was a massive contributor to the team’s success this season, dropping 447 points (174-332 FG, 95-152 FT) over the course of 29 games. She also was a massive asset to the defense, bringing in 144 rebounds and swiping 46 steals. Sophomore Maggie Robbins was a ball magnet this season, finishing with a team-high 88 steals — putting her 11th in the nation this season, and fifth all-time for the Tigers. She was also a major asset on offense, finishing with 214 points (70-159 FG, 62-97 FT) for a great all-around season. Junior Ashlyn Milton was a massive threat this season, scoring 419 points that put her second for scoring this season. Milton has been lights-out shooting this season (151-349 FG), but even more so from behind the three-point line — breaking the school record for most three-point shots both attempted and completed in a single season (78-193 3pt).

The Tigers finish their season with one of the best offenses in the nation, entering the Sweet 16 as the fourth-best team in the nation for points and assists. Coach Cameron Hill ends the season with his sixth SCAC championship for Trinity, and just one win shy of tying a 28-win record season he set in 2017.


Correction: The previous version of this story had Maggie Robbins’ name as Maggie Robinson.