Patricia Stritzel once made six three-pointers in a JV game, but her three three-pointers Saturday night in the GCAC Red championship game will likely be a more lasting memory.
Stritzel’s threes sparked No. 5 Trinity to a 51-40 victory over visiting Mother McAuley. Loyola-bound guard Taylor Nazon made all 10 of her free throw attempts in the fourth quarter to finish with a game-high 14 points. The Blazers (22-3) clinched their third consecutive conference tournament title after beating Loyola in each of the previous two seasons.
Stritzel started the season on the JV. As the daughter of Trinity coach Ed Stritzel, Patricia has gradually seen her minutes increase during the second half of the season. Stritzel scored 11 points in the conference title after going scoreless in a previous meeting against McAuley. Her career high is 14 points against St. Ignatius in the GCAC tournament opener Jan. 28.
“At the beginning of the season, I practiced with the varsity,” Stritzel said. “As the season went on, more people became injured. I had a feeling I would get my chance.”
Trinity scored only five points in the third quarter, but outscored the Macs 23-12 in the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 28 to end the third quarter, but Trinity opened the final quarter with nine consecutive points starting with Stritzel’s third three-pointer. She made back-to-back threes in the first quarter after the Macs took an 11-8 lead.
“We felt good. We felt like we can be there; that we can compete with them [entering the fourth quarter],” McAuley coach Ashley Luke Clanton said. “In the fourth quarter, I wish we would have taken care of the basketball. We might have had a chance at the end.”
The Blazers beat McAuley (19-6) for the second time in three weeks. The key to each victory was finding a way to limit senior guard Alyssa Siwek of McAuley, who was named the GCAC Red player of the year before the game. Siwek scored a team-high 13 points in the title game, but had only one basket in the second and third quarters.
Her first basket in the second half came on a three-pointer with 3:10 remaining in the game. Nazon defended Siwek for most of the game. A variety of Trinity defenders guarded Siwek in the first meeting when she scored 12 points.
“They play deep [defensively], yet still fly out to the ball,” Siwek said. “We couldn’t do much.”
Junior Jasma Williams contributed 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Macs.
In the first meeting, Trinity won 64-57 on Jan. 10 behind Trinity freshman Annie McKenna’s career-high 20 points. The two teams combined for 34 points in the fourth quarter in that game. In the rematch, Trinity and McAuley scored a total of 12 points on a combined 5-for-25 shooting in the third quarter.
“It feels amazing, especially this being my senior year,” Nazon said. “This is our third one [for the GCAC Red title]. It gives us nice momentum since we have two more games before the playoffs.”