(Georgetown) – Texas Lutheran's quest for a second Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Championship in four seasons came up short Sunday afternoon as the No. 8-ranked Trinity Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 78-67.
TLU had a chance at an at-large selection to the NCAA Division III Tournament as the No. 6 ranked team in the South Region, but the Bulldogs were not one of the 64 teams chosen during Monday's selection show, despite a resume that includes a 21-6 record, a win over national No. 8 and regional No. 1 Trinity (the Tigers' only loss) during the regular season, and three wins over regional No. 8 Austin College.
In Southwestern University's Robertson Center, TLU opened up a 12-point lead with five minutes to play in the second quarter. But Trinity closed out the first half with a 12-2 run and then opened the third quarter on a 14-4 rally.
The Bulldogs had the Trinity lead down to three in the closing seconds of the third quarter before SCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player Allison Staley broke free for a buzzer-beating three-pointer. The shot gave Trinity a 55-49 edge entering the fourth.
Trinity started the fourth with a 7-1 run and extended the advantage later in the quarter to as many as 19 with 2:10 to play.
Trinity won its second consecutive SCAC Championship and improved to 26-1 overall. The Tigers' lone loss of the season came on the road at Texas Lutheran on Jan. 14.
The loss dropped TLU to 21-6 overall. The Bulldogs lost two of three to Trinity, the No. 1 ranked team in the latest NCAA DIII South Region rankings.
Kristen Lye led the Bulldogs on Saturday with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting. She added six rebounds.
Cierra Jordan added 18 points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Lye and Jordan were named to the SCAC All-Tournament Team. Lye made the team for the third time in four seasons.
Staley led Trinity 17 points and five rebounds. She hit three three-pointers and made six of her 12 shot attempts. Monica Holguin added 13 points and six rebounds.
Grace Horn collected nine points and seven assists.
Trinity out-rebounded TLU by 15, 45-30, and out-shot TLU 46 percent to 39.3 percent. TLU was 6-for-24 from the three-point line.
The Bulldogs advanced to the championship game with a 63-59 win over Austin College in Saturday’s semifinals. TLU erased a four-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter with a quick 8-0 run that included made field goals from Bailey Champion, Madison Ray, Kristen Lye, and Savannah Hight.
The game was tied at 52-52 until senior guard/forward Caitlin Cote hit a short jumper to put the Bulldogs ahead with 3:44 to play in the game.
Austin College would not lead or pull into a tie the rest of the way.
Cierra Jordan's three-point play at the 1:53 mark gave TLU a five-point advantage with 1:53 remaining.
After Caitlyn Collins drained a three-pointer to cut the TLU lead down to two with 57 seconds to play, the Bulldogs made a defensive stand that led to a long Austin College three and a defensive rebound by Lye.
Ray, Lye and Champion each made free throws in the closing seconds to preserve the TLU lead.
Hight contributed nine points and four rebounds, and Ray chipped in eight rebounds and two assists. Cote scored five points and pulled down four rebounds.
Bryce Frank led the Kangaroos with 17 points and 12 rebounds. She hit eight of her 13 shots.
Austin shot 39.3 percent for the game and 26.3 percent from the three-point line.
TLU shot 41.8 percent for the game and 40 percent (8-for-20) from the three-point line. Jordan made three three-pointers for TLU.