By Seth Mikel, Taylor (Ind.) Assistant AD for Communications
DEERFIELD, Ill. – A rematch of last year’s NAIA National Championship Tournament Sweet 16 classic lived up to the hype, as No. 15 Taylor (Ind.) avenged the gut-wrenching postseason loss from a year ago with a 101-97 win at No. 8 Trinity International (Ill.) on Saturday night.
Mason Degenkolb stole the show, pouring in 22 second-half points to post a game-high 32 on nine-of-14 shooting and a 13-of-13 showing from the charity stripe. The sophomore All-American added three assists in 26 minutes of work.
Backcourt mate, Ryan Robinson, was nearly as impressive, netting 19 points and dishing out a team-leading seven assists to go with two steals and a six-of-nine showing from the floor, while Jake Heggeland hit seven-of-11 shots to end with 16 points and five rebounds.
Those three had plenty of help, with Evan Crowe staying hot to knock down four more triples and finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds and Vincent Miranda netting eight points off the bench. Keaton Hendricks added seven points and eight boards, with Emmanuel Boateng swatting three shots and Tim Fleming gathering three steals.
Taylor shot 53.0 percent from the floor in the contest, including a 19-of-32 effort after the break for a 59.4-percent clip. TU nailed seven-of-15 looks from deep in the second half and went 16-of-17 from the free throw line.
TU needed the hot touch to erase a 48-40 halftime deficit, and to withstand a 15-of-28 barrage from beyond the arc from the hosts throughout the contest.
Trinity International (1-1) pulled ahead early and maintained a comfortable lead over the final 12:45 of the opening period, pushing the gap to as many as 15, before Taylor closed the stanza on a 9-2 surge to draw within single digits at the break.
An 11-3 run to open the second half drew Taylor within a single point but the Purple and Gold could not pull ahead until a jumper from James McCloud gave TU a 68-67 lead with 12:21 to play.
Miranda followed the McCloud jumper with a triple and Degenkolb added a deuce to open a 73-67 cushion that Taylor held at least a share of until falling behind 91-90 with 2:28 showing on the clock.
The two sides traded buckets until Robinson buried a three-point dagger from the wing for a 95-93 lead, and Degenkolb scored the final six points of the game for the Trojans to seal the 101-97 triumph.
The 15th-ranked Trojans (3-0) are averaging 96.0 points per game and have scored at least 85 points in each of their first three outings for the first time since the 1970-1971 season. Taylor will return to action on Tuesday