San Antonio – The Tiger men's basketball team completed a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference weekend sweep with a 71-68 victory over Austin (TX) College on Saturday evening.
Trinity and Austin went back and forth over the first several minutes of the game, though the Tigers pulled out to a 23-18 lead at the midway point of the first period. Austin strung together a 16-4 run after that, taking a 34-27 lead with 3:18 left in the half. Trinity scored six of the final eight points of the half and trailed 33-36 at the break.
The Tigers kept pace with Austin early in the second period, but the visitors scored nine unanswered points to take a 14-point lead with 11:31 to play. The lead was still 12 when Trinity used a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to just five with under seven minutes remaining.
Trinity drew within three points on a couple of occasions, but couldn't get any closer until the final minutes. A pair of Austin free throws put Trinity down by five with 2:43 left, but the Tiger defense did not allow another point down the stretch. AJ Clark scored five straight points himself on a three-pointer and a layup that tied the game at 68-68 with 1:55 to go.
Stephen Molina's free throws with 1:24 left gave Trinity its first lead since the 8:05 mark in the first half. Austin then missed three straight free throws, including two that could have tied the game with 36 seconds left. After Trinity hit 1-2 at the line with under 10 seconds left to make it a three-point game, Austin's three-point attempt was blocked.
Austin had one final desperation heave after the Tigers missed both free throws with under two seconds to go, but the shot was off the mark and Trinity escaped with the win.
With tonight's win, the Tigers earned a regular season series split with Austin and improved to 9-12 overall and 7-7 in SCAC play. Austin falls to 12-9 overall and 9-5 in conference.
Trinity dropped a narrow 77-72 game at Austin earlier this season, but still leads the series with a 31-8 overall record (since 1991-92). The Tigers have won 10 consecutive home games in the series and hold an 18-1 overall record at home against the Kangaroos.
AJ Clark led three starters in double figures with 15 points on 6-12 from the field and 3-6 from three-point range. Clark also had a team-high nine rebounds to go with a pair of blocks.
David Nickell knocked down 6-11 shots on his way to a 14-point night, adding six rebounds and two blocks.
Trinity returns to action next weekend for two more SCAC games in Colorado, beginning with Johnson & Wales (CO) University on Friday, February 14, at 5:30 p.m. (MST).