This past weekend, the top-seeded Trinity Tigers womenâ€™s basketball team won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Championship (SCAC) by knocking off the No. 3 Schreiner University Mountaineers with a score of 66-50.
In clinching the SCAC, the Tigers received an automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III playoffs. With wins over the Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs and Schreiner in the semifinals and finals, respectively, the Tigers finished their regular season with a record of 22-5.
The Tigersâ€™ two wins in a row showed their confidence and dedication to their long-term season goals.
â€œOur performance was great. We played with so much confidence, and from the beginning we knew how much we wanted to win the tournament. It was just a matter of keeping our eyes on the prize and doing everything and anything in order to get there,â€ said junior guard Monica Holguin.
The Tigersâ€™ offense and defense were stellar on Sunday. Key contributors showed up on both sides of the ball. Multiple players had steals, rebounds, points and assists, contributing to the Tigersâ€™ win against Schreiner.
â€œWe had a solid defensive game plan and were confident shooters. Itâ€™s really exciting to win SCAC and go on to the national tournament, especially having come up short the last two years,â€ said senior forward Bryony Harris.
Senior guard Caitlin Barrett led the team with six steals and contributed nine points in the win against the Mountaineers. Junior guard and forward Allison Staley scored eight points. Senior guard Elizabeth Balido scored twelve points.
â€œI thought everyone played really well … Different people stepped up and contributed to the win,â€ Harris said.
This was the first time Staley has been named Â to the all-tournament team.
â€œBeing named all-tournament is really such an honor, and since itâ€™s the first time for me, it was really exciting to hear my name be announced,â€ Staley said.
Holguin joined her teammates on the all-tournament team and was also recognized as the tournamentâ€™s Most Valuable Player, having scored 23 points on seven field goals and nine free throws. She also had six steals and six assists.
â€œItâ€™s always an honor to be recognized in such a way,â€ Holguin said.
The beginning of the road to the NCAA Division III Championship begins against the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas in the Round of 64. Like the Tigers, the Athenas finished the season 22-5. The winner of this game will play the winner of the University of Texas-Tyler, University of California Santa Cruz game.
The NCAA Division III tournament features a diverse field of sixty-four teams from all over the country. The field has teams such as the Tufts Jumbos, the New York University Violets and the George Fox Bruins.
Winning the SCAC championship has the team poised to make a run in the 64-team, single-elimination tournament.
â€œWe are definitely excited for this next weekend. Every game from here on out will be a grind, and we have to come ready to play,â€ Holguin said.
In addition to its variety of teams, the amount of games required to be played by teams deep in the tournament makes March Madness a test of which teams can display endurance mentally and physically. The Tigers plan to take the tournament with a one game at a time mentality.
â€œWe are taking it one game at a time, and I think if we continue playing the way we did this past weekend we will be a hard team to beat,â€ Harris said.
Stanley noted the key is remaining true to what got them to the tournament in the first place: Trinity basketball. This will be crucial for the Tigersâ€™ success this weekend.
â€œWe will just have to go in and work hard and play Trinity basketball. I think itâ€™ll be a really good game and a lot of fun to play in,â€ Staley said.
You can catch the start of the Tigersâ€™ campaign to take the NCAA Division III championship this weekend in Tyler, Texas. They play the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas the Louis Herrington Patriot Center at 5p.m.