Men’s basketball earns slam-dunk win against TLU

Trinity men’s basketball defeat Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs 85-58, extending their win streak


Photo Courtesy of Tiger Network

Sophomore Ty Williams shoots a free throw at the TU vs. TLU game.

Amid the sounds of speakers blaring overhead and fans screaming from the stands, the Trinity Tigers men’s basketball team ran out to meet their opponents. At the sound of the buzzer, the opening tipoff was thrown up. The first point came soon after as the ball was knocked into the hands of guard A.J Clark, senior business, analytics and technology major, to score the first points of the game. Assistant coach Sterling Holmes expressed pride in the energy of the team, as well as in the coaching staff’s efforts to mold the team into the cohesive unit they saw that day.

“I love the team’s energy, I love the team’s vibe all throughout this week’s practice,” Holmes said. “They seemed engaged and really focused. Coach Shawn did a really good job at preparing the personnel scout and Jimmy did a very good job of just the x’s and o’s. I felt very confident coming into today’s game.”

The Tigers continued their attack throughout the first two quarters, ending the half with a 37-22 lead. Head coach Jimmy Smith emphasized the importance of substitutions during the game, utilizing Trinity’s bench to keep up both the Tigers’ energy and pressure on their opponents.

“In the first half, we didn’t have anyone play for more than 11 minutes, and so we expected everyone would feel good and be well rested,” Smith said. “They [the TLU Bulldogs] didn’t have quite as many guys as us so we really utilized our depth, and I thought we were more active, forcing more turnovers and creating an offense from that.”

The second half rolled around with the Tigers continuing to play strategically against a relentless Bulldog team. However, the Tigers’ offensive capability and depth in the bench allowed for the team to continue its lead as the clock ran down to zero. At the end of the final quarter, the score showed a Trinity victory 85-58.

Due to wins against both the Bulldogs and the Southwestern Pirates, the Trinity Tigers secured both the second seed in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championship and a bye week before the tournament. Guard Kaleb Jenkins, senior sociology major, explained that a bye week before tournament games is an important period of both rest and practice in order to prepare for more games.

“We know that these upcoming two games would be really important to win because if we win these next two games we would lock down the two seed. And that’s really important in the SCAC competition because we would get a bye coming into the tournament. So that’s one less game we have to play before the big game so we could lock in till semis and give it all we have,” Jenkins said.

With this new time gained, many players expressed their various plans for improvement going forward. Forward Kevin Garcia, first-year business administration major, expressed his ideas of both refining his personal performance for the future as well as his team’s plans to improve for the rest of the season.

“There’s always things to work on. I think as a group our defense needs work rebounding the ball better. We shot the ball pretty well this game so I’m looking to be more active on defense,” Garcia said. “I could work on getting stronger and losing some weight while getting in shape. Just always staying ready for when my number gets called.”

With this eye for improvement, the Tigers look to their goals of the season. Clark stated that the team aims to finish their season off with a win in the SCAC as well as going in as deep as they can in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division III tournament.

“We’re obviously 0 and 2 to Saint Thomas, we have losses to Centenary and Colorado College. So they’re probably going to be our opponents in the tournaments so just gotta clean up some stuff defensively and keep playing fast against them,” Clark said.

With the bye week secured, the Tigers look to both prepare and recover for their SCAC run as well as their NCAA season. The Tigers’ next game will be the SCAC semi-finals on Feb. 25 at home.