Not much went right for Trinity Tuesday night against visiting Evanston. Even the final score was tilted in the visitors’ favor.
Trinity finished with at least seven missed layups. Ten missed free throws. Nineteen missed three-pointers. And gave up an 11-0 run in the third quarter that turned a four-point lead into a seven-point deficit.
Evanston’s Seara Clayborn scored 15 points including seven free throws in the final 2:52, Sierra Clayborn added 13 points and Dashae Shumate had 11 points before exiting with five fouls as the unbeaten No. 14 Wildkits upset the No. 2 Blazers 54-50.
Taylor Nazon (21 points) made a three-pointer with 2:05 remaining to get the Blazers within 47-46, but a basket by Erin Boothe extended the Wildkits lead to 49-46 and Clayborn did the rest.
“We lost to a better team tonight,” Trinity coach Ed Stritzel said. “The coaches were saying we missed shots, but we missed shots because they defended well, and we missed free throws probably because we were tired.
“We’re a very good team,” the coach added. “I will not use injuries as an excuse. We won’t do it. I think that highly of our team. Evanston is obviously a quality opponent. They’re well-coached, fast, all the credit to them. We didn’t play well, but they made us not play well. They’re a really good team.”
Evanston (12-0) grabbed an early 11-6 lead on consecutive baskets by Shumate, but Trinity (7-1) fought back to take a 27-25 lead at the break on a basket by Lauren Prochaska and a three-pointer from freshman Annie McKenna.
The Blazers extended the lead to 33-29 on a three-pointer by Nazon with 6:08 remaining in the third quarter, but Trinity went silent for the next 5:25 while the Wildkits ran off 11 unanswered points.
“We knew we could take advantage of whoever No. 1 (McKenna) was guarding,” Evanston coach Elliot Whitefield said. “Offensively, she can hit the three, that’s for sure. But she’s young, she’s small and we were able to reverse the ball around to Seara who was able to post her up.
“We don’t do it often,” the coach added. “We really haven’t had to. But even against a little bit bigger kid they do have those moves. To the kids’ credit, they did a great job moving the ball and exposing that weakness.”
Nazon got Trinity got within a single point at 42-41 with a pair of free throws with 5:42 remaining and again at 44-43 with 4:06 left, but the Blazers could never overtake Evanston. Clayburn made certain of that from the free-throw line.
“I shoot a lot of free throws before and after practice,” Clayborn said. “I’m a way better free-throw shooter than last year. My percentage was horrible. I think when people now see Evanston, they know that we’re going to challenge them and they can’t think. ‘Oh, it’s Evanston’ like years past.”
McKenna added 11 points and a team-high six rebounds for Trinity and Lauren Prochaska added eight points.
“When we were up two points at halftime, we tried to jump on them early,” Stritzel said. “We always try to knock the other team out with threes. Then when we got down, the kids were trying to make it up too quick. We weren’t shooting well to begin with, so go to the hole.
“We’re very disappointed,” he added. “But again, we have a whole season to play. No one feels sorry for us. That’s the way it should be. We’ll regroup. We have a heavy load in front of us. We’ll have to figure it out.”