CRESTVIEW HILLS, KY. -- The Trine University women's basketball team came back from eight points down in the first half to beat Emory (Ga.) University, 57-54, in a first-round game of the 2019 NCAA National Tournament at the Connor Center on the campus of Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, Ky.
Senior Brandi Dawson (Garrett, Ind./Garrett) led Trine in scoring with 22 points on seven-of-18 shooting (38.9 percent) to go along with a team-high six rebounds. Fellow senior Cassidy Williams (Archbold, Ohio/Archbold) was the other Thunder player to score in double figures with 18 points and tied Dawson in rebounding with six boards.
For the game, Trine shot 40.0 percent as a team (18-of-45) and went 19-of-24 (79.2 percent) at the free-throw line. The Thunder held Emory to 38.6 percent shooting (22-of-57), including just 20.0 percent (five-of-25) from three-point range.
In the first quarter, Emory opened up to a seven-point lead, 11-4, with 5:24 to go in the period, but then both team's offenses went silent for over a minute when a pair of free-throws by Williams ended the drought and got Trine to within five points, 11-6. A three-pointer by freshman Tara Bieniewicz (Chesterfield, Mich./Dakota) following the freebies by Williams cut the deficit to two points, 11-9, with 2:22 to go. But the Eagles ended the quarter with back-to-back triples to end the scoring and go up by eight points after the first 10 minutes, 17-9.
Emory maintained their eight-point advantage on two occasions in the first half of the second quarter, including having a 24-16 margin with 5:03 left in the half. Trine stayed within striking distance and made it a three-point game at the 1:23 mark after two free-throws by Dawson. A bucket by Emory extended the deficit to five points before one-of-two free-throws by freshman Kayla Wildman (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) capped the scoring in the half and sent the Thunder into the locker rooms trailing by four points, 31-27.
Coming out of the locker room, Dawson got the scoring started with a layup off of her own steal and made it a one-possession game, 31-29, early. Emory stayed ahead on the scoreboard until the 5:11 mark when a pair of Dawson free-throws tied the game at 36-36 and began a string of six unanswered points that led to Trine's first lead of the game, 40-36, with just under four minutes left. Leading up to the run, the Thunder defense held the Eagles scoreless for 4:03 who didn't record their next basket until the 2:26 mark on a layup. Emory came back to tie the game, but could not regain control as Trine led by a point, 42-41, heading into the fourth quarter.
Emory started the fourth quarter with three quick points to regain the lead, 44-42. Trine came right back to even the score thanks to a layup by Williams and then later gained some breathing room with a five-point advantage, 51-46, on a three-point play by Dawson and another layup by Williams with 3:24 to play. The Eagles then rallied and got to within a point late in the game by a score of 53-52 with 23 seconds on the clock. Following an Emory foul and a pair of critical free-throws by Dawson that gave the Thunder a three-point edge, 55-52, Trine came up with a big defensive rebound off of a missed three-pointer that could have tied the game and led to two more shots from the charity stripe that increased the lead to five points, 57-52, with 11 seconds to go. The Eagles scored a quick bucket to get to within three points and would get the ball back after a Trine turnover. But with only two seconds left, the last second heave by Emory fell wide of its target as Trine went on to win by the final of 57-54 and advance to the second round.
Trine will take on Thomas More tomorrow (Saturday, Mar. 2) at the Connor Center in Crestview Hills, Ky. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.