Trine One Win from National Championship
Thursday, March 14, 2024

Trine's Aidan Smylie and Brent Cox // Trine University Athletics

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Trine University men's basketball team defeated Trinity (Conn.) College on Thursday night inside the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum to secure their spot in the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament Championship game. The team will play #1 Hampden-Sydney College at 4:06 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 in the final game of the 2023-24 season.

The Thunder (28-4) led for a majority of the 66-54 victory and held the Bantams (30-2) to just 30.6% (19-for-62) in the game and 12.5% (2-for-16) from beyond the arc. Trine themselves were 23-of-54 (42.6%) from the field but struggled from three as well at 2-of-11 (18.2%). The rebounding battle was even at 38 apiece, but Trinity had a 17-10 edge on second chance points.

"I thought it was a really physical game, but we knew it would be after watching film," Head Coach Brooks Miller said in postgame media availability. "They had their run where we didn't score, but we rebounded well in the second half. I thought our point of pickup on the perimeter was tremendous. That's been a point of emphasis all year long. I'm really proud of the effort our guys had."

Cortez Garland and Fred Garland led the team in scoring with 12 points each. Aidan Smylie had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Brent Cox and Nate Tucker had nine points off the bench and Emmanuel Megnanglo contributed with eight points and a team-high four blocked shots.

The opening minutes of the game would see the teams go back-and-forth with shot making, including a pair of makes by Megnanglo, and the Thunder ahead 10-8 at the first media timeout. An and-one dunk by Cox helped extend the lead to 18-12. Makes by Fred Garland and Cox put the lead at double-digits at 24-14. Tucker added a jump shot to sustain the advantage as well. In total, it was a 12-1 scoring run that spanned from 10:52 to 7:37 left in the period.

Back-to-back field goals by Smylie worked the lead up to 13 at 31-18 and Tucker would convert from beyond the arc as well late in the first half to send the teams to their locker rooms with Trine on top 38-26.

A pair of makes by Drew Moore early in the second half got the Thunder off to a good start, but the middle stages of the second period saw the Bantams whittle the lead down to just three at 46-43. It was a scoreless streak for Trine that went for nearly five minutes (16:32 to 11:33 to play in the game). In that time, the Bantams netted nine unanswered points.

An 8-0 run in favor of Trine with a dunk by Megnanglo would spin the momentum of the game right back in their favor at 54-43. Five straight by Trinity gave them the basketball with a chance to make it a one-possession, but Cortez Garland stole a pass and took it the other way for two to give the team the final spark they needed to close the game out.

The elder Garland would score 10 points inside the final two minutes to help seal the win at 66-54. After struggling to score the ball at times in the second half, the defense kept the two teams even at 28 points each in the second half. On the glass, Trine was able to corral 20 misses on the Bantam side of the floor.

More information regarding the NCAA Men's Basketball Division III National Championship game will be available on www.trinethunder.com as soon as possible.


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