The Dominion Post  

Notre Dame slides past Trinity

Created on:   Sat, Feb 10, 2018   12:07 AM

Last modified:   Sat, Feb 10, 2018   12:07 AM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — The No. 7 Trinity Christian boys’ basketball team is used to tight games against top-tier teams, so it was no surprise that the Warriors took visiting No. 5 Notre Dame down to the wire on Feb. 9.

The Warriors gave it their all, but a tough defensive effort led the Fighting Irish to a 51-49 win.

“It was a battle back and forth all night,” Trinity head coach John Fowkes said. “We’re two teams that know each other well, two coaches that know each other well, and I think these two programs have a tremendous amount of respect for each other.”

Trinity surged to an 18-10 lead early, but a strong second quarter lifted Notre Dame back into the lead as the Irish carried a 30-27 advantage into the halftime break.

“What hurt us is in the second quarter and we go up 18-10, and they call a foul down there on Jo Zini, and we had to sit him down and they went on an 11-0 run,” Fowkes said.

Notre Dame would extend the lead to seven midway through the third quarter, but Trinity bounced back to bring the game within one point entering the final quarter.

Notre Dame would maintain a slight advantage throughout the quarter, but Trinity wouldn’t go away, and a 3-pointer from junior Briston Bennett brought the score within one possession with under a minute to play.

“One team would punch the other in the mouth, and the other would come back and respond. There was a lot of back and forth, back and forth, and it came down to the final possession,” said Fowkes.

The Warriors possessed the ball as the clock wound down, and Bennett ended up with one final shot, but couldn’t get it to convert.

Fowkes credits Notre Dame’s defense for the tough game. The Fighting Irish used their depth keep different looks coming against the Warriors, and collapsed on the paint all night, forcing tight passing lanes and tough outside shots that kept Trinity from finding their offensive rhythm.

“I thought at times the way Notre Dame collapsed around the rim, we tried to force things out there. A couple times Daniel tried to make those real tight passes,” Fowkes said. “When they collapse like that, you have to kick it back out when you don’t have what you want.”

Trinity moves to 12-5 with the loss. They return to action Tuesday, when they’ll host Valley (Wetzel) in an OVAC semifinal matchup. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.