ANGOLA, IND. -- The Trine University women's basketball team clinched at least a share of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association regular-season championship with a 69-55 win against Saint Mary's (Ind.) College at the MTI Center on senior night.
Seniors Brandi Dawson (Garrett, Ind./Garrett) and Montana Martin (Columbia City, Ind./Churubusco) both led the team in scoring with 18 points each. Dawson shot eight-of-11 from the field (72.7 percent), while Martin went six-of-11 (54.5 percent) from the floor with five of her made shots coming from behind the arc (five-of-eight overall).
Fellow senior Cassidy Williams (Archbold, Ohio/Archbold) rounded out the leading scorers with 12 points and she also had a team-high four rebounds.
Junior Katy Steers (Portage, Ind./Portage) helped set up the offense with nine of the Thunder's 16 assists on the night.
Trine (21-2, 14-0 MIAA) started the game with a 7-0 scoring run on its way to boasting a 13-2 advantage with 3:44 to play in the first quarter following a three-point play by Dawson. Saint Mary's (10-12, 7-6 MIAA) got a little offense going to end the period by outscoring the Thunder, 5-1, but would still trail by seven points after the first 10 minutes of action, 14-7.
The Belles began the second quarter with a pair of free-throws to get to within five points early, 14-9. Neither team would score in the next 1:05, but a layup by Steers then sparked a 10-0 run for Trine that put the Thunder out ahead by a comfortable 15 points, 24-9, with 5:45 remaining in the first half. Trine matched its 15-point margin two more times before the end of the period that included a 28-13 score following a layup by sophomore Shay Herbert (Pinckney, Mich./Pinckney) at the 3:04 mark. Saint Mary's looked to head into the locker rooms with a little momentum as an ensuing 10-3 run cut the deficit to single figures, 31-23, with 15 seconds left. But a three-pointer by Williams capped the scoring in the half and gave Trine a 34-23 lead at the intermission.
Martin connected on one of her five three-pointers to begin the scoring in the third quarter which gave Trine a lead of 14 points, 37-23. Saint Mary's then rattled off six straight points to get to within eight points, 37-29, at the 8:17 mark and then again with 6:44 to go by a score of 40-32. But the Thunder quickly extended the lead back out to double figures and matched its 14-point edge two more times, including a 51-37 advantage at the 2:48 mark on a put-back by Steers. The Belles would not go away, however, and ended the quarter with five straight points to make it a nine-point game, 51-42, heading into the final period.
In a repeat of the third quarter, Trine scored the first points of the fourth quarter from behind the arc, but this time it was freshman Kayla Wildman (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) who dialed it up from long range to put the Thunder back out in front by double digits for good. Trine later took control of the game with an 8-0 run that ended in a four-point play by Martin and resulted in an 18-point lead for the home team, 64-46, with 4:36 to play. A few possessions later, Martin hit another triple that gave Trine its largest lead of the contest of 20 points, 69-49, with just over two minutes remaining. Those would be the final points of the game for Trine as the Belles tacked on six unanswered points to end the game, but the outcome was never in doubt as the Thunder went on to the 69-55 final.
Trine will go for a possible 12th straight victory and the outright MIAA regular-season title when it travels to Albion, Mich. for a MIAA matchup against Albion College on Saturday, Feb. 9. The game is slated to start at 3 p.m.