ALBION, MICH. -- The Trine University women's basketball team secured its second outright Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association regular-season championship with a 70-53 win against Albion (Mich.) College in Albion, Mich. The Thunder have won, or shared, the last three MIAA regular-season titles with the last outright championship coming during the 2016-17 season which marked the first conference title for WBB since joining the MIAA.
Trine (22-2, 15-0 MIAA) got off to a slow start in the first quarter as the team shot just 28.6 percent (four-of-14) from the field. Albion (16-7, 8-6 MIAA) scored the first five points of the game, but the Thunder worked their way back to within two points following a three-pointer by senior Montana Martin (Columbia City, Ind./Churubusco) that made the score 7-5. The Britons answered with an ensuing triple of their own on their next offensive possession and later tacked on a free-throw to go up by six points, 11-5, at the 2:40 mark. Trine ended the first period with a 7-2 scoring run that ended in a layup by senior Brandi Dawson (Garrett, Ind./Garrett) and cut the deficit to a point, 13-12, heading into the second quarter.
A pair of free-throws by freshman Sophia Kreag (Westfield, Ind./Westfield) to begin the scoring in the second quarter put the Thunder back out in front, 14-13. The two teams then continued to swap leads throughout the quarter and Albion would take a slim two-point advantage with under two minutes to go on layup that made the score, 24-22. A layup by Trine senior Cassidy Williams (Archbold, Ohio/Archbold) began a 7-0 run for the Thunder to end the half. All seven points came off the hands of Williams with an additional pair of free-throws and a three-pointer gave Trine a five-point lead at the break, 29-24.
Trine began to put some distance between it and Albion in the third quarter as the Thunder outscored the Britons, 22-10, in the frame. Despite an early triple by Albion to start the scoring and narrow the gap to two points, Trine answered with seven straight points as part of a larger, 16-6, run that ended in a layup by Dawson and made it a 45-30 ball game with just over five minutes to go in the period. Trine later led by as many as 18 points, 51-33, thanks to two free-throws by freshman Kayla Wildman (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) with a minute-and-a-half remaining. Albion scored the final point on a successful free-throw, but the Thunder led by 17 points, 51-34, going into the final quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the home team outscored Trine, 11-5, in the first 5:15 to pull to within 11 points, 56-45, with 4:45 left to play. A layup by sophomore Shay Herbert (Pinckney, Mich./Pinckney) and a jumper by Dawson extended the lead to 15 points which later led to a 17-point advantage with 39 seconds to go. A jumper by freshman Kelsy Taylor (Louisville, Ky./New Albany) would be the final points of the game and matched Trine's earlier 17-point margin with a final score of 70-53.
Trine finished shooting 47.1 percent (24-of-51) overall from the field for the game, including 38.9 percent (seven-of-18) from three-point range and 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the free-throw line.
Individually, Dawson led all scorers with 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting (55.6 percent) and also grabbed five rebounds to go along with three assists and three steals. Williams was second in scoring with 18 points and Martin rounded out the high scorers with 15 points. Junior Katy Steers (Portage, Ind./Portage) tallied a game-high seven assists.
The Thunder will wrap-up the regular season when it travels to Kalamazoo, Mich. next Saturday, Feb. 16 for a MIAA matchup against Kalamazoo College. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.