• Written by Tim Cronin

Four-point loss to Benedictine keeps Trolls losing streak going

  Two losses. One that counts.
  Any way it’s calculated, it was not a great finish to 2013, nor a scintillating start to 2014 for Trinity Christian’s men’s basketball team.
  The loss that counts — Saturday’s 72-68 defeat at Benedictine in Springfield — could have been Trinity’s game to win. The 10 lead changes saw the Trolls ahead for most of the second half. Only with 5:14 to go, when Benedictine tied the game, did Trinity finally surrender control.
  It stayed that way, the Trolls chasing but not catching. As a result, the Trolls fell to 4-12, with a string of defeats going back to mid-December.
  The skein is three straight losses, four if the 89-71 defeat on New Year’s Eve at Lewis, an NCAA Division II squad, is factored in. The Trolls label the game as an exhibition, the Flyers as one that counted (and moved them to 8-0 this season). Even without that contest, Trinity stood 4-12 going into Wednesday’s CCAC showdown with neighborhood rival St. Xavier.

  Many of the team’s statistics argue for a much better record. The Trolls shoot as well as their opponents (44 percent), are about as good from the free throw line (68.4 percent to 69.5), and are almost as close in rebounding (37.1 per game to the opposition’s 38.8).
  The difference can be found in the quantity across the board. Trinity’s foes have taken 101 more shots than the Trolls, making 43 more, and have gone to the free throw line nearly 100 more times. The successes — plus 76 fewer turnovers than the Trolls — add up to a scoring differential of 9.6 points per game.
  Saturday’s loss can be attributed to Trinity fouls and Benedictine free throws. The Trolls were whistled 19 times to Benedictine’s 11, and Benedictine went to the line 14 more times, including a 15-6 advantage in visits in the second half. Trinity was outscored only 11-5 at the free throw line, but still lost, even with a 13-5 advantage from beyond the three-point line.
  Jared Jones’ 27 points and David Buffham’s 15 went for naught as a result, overwhelmed by the quartet of double-figure scorers for Benedictine, led by Thomas Dillard’s 24 points. Jones had brought the Trolls within a point on a free throw with less than a minute to play, but a flurry of free throws by Benedictine allowed the hosts to pull away again.
  The loss at Lewis that closed out the old year was as painful in a different way. The 18-point final margin is misleading when the first half is considered. The Trolls played the Flyers better than even, leading Lewis 45-44 at the break, this time because they outscored Lewis 15-10 from the free throw line.
  But a failure to defend the boards in the second half brought about Lewis’ 19-point post-intermission edge. The Trolls were out-rebounded 44-31 overall, with Lewis pulling down 11 boards on the offensive glass while making 64.3 percent of its second half shots.
  Logan Vos led Trinity with 15 points, but was shut out in the second half. Jones, firing exclusively from beyond the arc, scored 14 points. Joe Hehir added 10. Ryan Jackson’s 29-point splurge led the way for Lewis.
  Now comes the hard part for the Trolls. Beginning with the visit to the Cougars, every game is in the CCAC. Trinity entered the Shannon Center 0-5 in the league.
  Statistics: 4-12 overall, 0-5 CCAC, 2-3 home, 2-6 away, 0-3 neutral. Leaders: Jared Jones 15.6 ppg; Ezekiel Odonkor 7.9 rpg; Jones 43 assists; Cody Rhorer 13 steals; Odonkor 16 blocks.
  Schedule: Saturday, at Calumet-St. Joseph, 3 p.m.; Wednesday, vs. Holy Cross, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 18, at St. Francis, 7 p.m.; Jan. 22, vs. Purdue-Calumet, 7:30 p.m.
Women’s basketball
  The Trolls got back to the court against St. Xavier on Wednesday, their first game since New Year’s Eve and a 104-65 loss to St. Francis (Ind.), the top-ranked team in the NAIA. The day before, in their first game of the Indiana Tech tournament in Fort Wayne, the Trolls handed Spring Arbor a 61-49 defeat, and thus they entered play in 2014 with a 5-11 record, three more victories than they racked up in the 2012-13 season.
  The loss to St. Francis (15-0) was no great surprise. The Cougars led 20-5 after five minutes, and it didn’t get much better for the Trolls. Trinity trailed by as many as 44 points, were forced into 34 turnovers, and were outrebounded 40-33. Caitlin Cody’s 18 points led Trinity’s scoring, with Kari LeGrand adding 16 points. Akyah Taylor’s 25 points paced St. Francis.
  Ideally, the Trolls can use that experience against their CCAC sisters, for, aside from the contest against Elmhurst on Jan. 16, it’s conference play the rest of the way.
  Trinity managed to control the game with Spring Arbor most of the way, outshooting and outrebounding the Cougars while dominating at the free throw line. Cody’s 9-of-14 shooting and 21 point, 16 rebound outburst led the way, aided by 12 points each from Brooke Bambrick (10 rebounds) and Holly Boetsma. Kylie Townsley’s 20 points led Spring Arbor (6-7).
  Statistics: 5-11 overall, 1-4 CCAC, 1-4 home, 3-5 away, 1-2 neutral. Leaders: Caitlin Cody 13.5 ppg; Cody 7.9 rpg; Allie Paluchniak 35 assists; Paluchniak 23 steals; Brooke Bambrick, Cody, 10 blocks each.
  Schedule: Saturday, at Calumet-St. Joseph, 1 p.m.; Wednesday, vs. Holy Cross, 5:30 p.m.; Jan. 16, vs. Elmhurst, 5:30 p.m.; Jan. 18, at St. Francis, 5 p.m.; Jan. 22, vs. Purdue-Calumet, 5:30 p.m.