Senior Brandi Dawson (Garrett, Ind./Garrett) scored a game-high 25 points to help lead the Trine University women’s basketball team to a 79-43 victory against Alma (Mich.) College to advance to the championship game of the 2019 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament at the MTI Center.
Dawson scored her 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting (76.9 percent) and included a perfect five-of-five effort at the free-throw line. One other Trine player scored in double figures in senior Montana Martin (Columbia City, Ind./Churubusco) with 12 points that all came from behind the arc on four triples (four-of-four overall).
Trine had a balanced effort on the boards with senior Cassidy Williams (Archbold, Ohio/Archbold) leading the way with a team-high four rebounds.
As a team, the Thunder shot 49.1 percent (27-of-55) from the floor, 45.8 percent from long range (11-of-24) and shot 82.4 percent (14-of-17) at the free-throw line. Defensively, Trine held its opponent to just 39.6 percent (19-of-48) from the field, including 8.3 percent (one-of-12) from three-point range.
Trine (24-2) took control of the game right from the start and outscored Alma (15-12), 51-25, in the first half. The Thunder scored 25 of those points in the first quarter alone which began with Trine jumping out to a 9-4 advantage after a triple by Martin at the 7:27 mark. The Scots then tallied three points of their own to make it a two-point game, 9-7, before Trine went on an 8-0 scoring run to take a double-digit lead, 17-7, with just over four minutes remaining in the period. A few minutes later, a triple by junior Katy Steers (Portage, Ind./Portage), followed by a pair of free-throws by freshman Tara Bieniewicz (Chesterfield, Mich./Dakota) gave Trine its largest lead of 14 points, 25-11, with 1:02 to go. Alma got the final points of the frame on a tip-in, but the Thunder still maintained a 12-point advantage heading into the second quarter, 25-13.
Leading by 13 points early in the second period, a layup by Williams sparked a streak of seven-straight points as part of a larger, 13-2, run that increased the Thunder lead to over 20 points, 41-17, with 5:06 remaining in the half. A three-pointer by freshman Kayla Wildman (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) with 55 seconds left led to Trine boasting a 26-point margin at the intermission by a score of 51-25.
A jumper by Dawson to being the scoring in the second half and a pair of free-throws by Williams, allowed Trine to eclipse the 30-point advantage for the first time in the game with 8:34 left in the third quarter by a score of 55-25. The lead later grew to 37 points, 66-29, thanks to another bucket by Dawson when Alma went on a string of seven unanswered points to make the score, 66-36, at the 1:34 mark. Trine tallied the final point of the frame on one-of-two freebies by Bieniewicz to go into the final quarter leading by a score of 67-36.
The two teams traded baskets in the early minutes of the fourth quarter to keep the margin hoovering around 30 points. Trine scored the final eight points in the last 4:51 highlighted by a three-pointer by freshman Kaylee Argyle (Freeland, Mich./Freeland) and a total of four points by fellow freshman Hannah Milligan (Clinton Twp., Mich./Lutheran North) to send the Thunder to the 79-43 victory.
Trine will move on to face Hope (Mich.) College in the tournament title game tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 23) at the MTI Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.