HOLLAND, MICH. -- Sophomore Tara Bieniewicz (Chesterfield, Mich./Dakota) scored 12 points in the second half alone on her way to scoring a game and career-tying high 21 points in a 59-52 loss against No. 2 nationally-ranked Hope (Mich.) College in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and regular-season finale at DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland, Mich.
Bieniewicz finished the game shooting 61.5 percent from the field, including connecting on four triples (four-of-eight overall) and had one free-throw for her 21 points. Senior Katy Steers (Portage, Ind./Portage) and sophomore Kelsy Taylor (Louisville, Ky./New Albany) were the next highest scorers for Trine at eight points each. Steers also added a game-high nine assists.
Sophomore Kayla Wildman (Rockford, Mich./Rockford) was the team's leading rebounder with a game-tying high eight boards.
The two teams renewed their rivalry at a back-and-forth pace as the score was tied seven times and the lead changed hands eight times in the contest. Hope (25-0, 16-0 MIAA) maintained the lead for the majority of the first quarter and led by as many as four points during the first 6:56. The Flying Dutch had a two-point cushion, 12-10, just over the three minute mark when a three-pointer by freshman Sophie Sloneker (Monroe, Ohio/Monroe), followed by a layup by sophomore Rachel Stewart (Pekin, Ind./Eastern) completed a 5-0 mini scoring run to put Trine (20-5, 14-2 MIAA) out in front by three points, 15-12. Hope netted a final jumper to end the scoring in the quarter which made it a one-point contest, 15-14, after the first period.
In the second quarter, neither team got on the scoreboard until the 7:28 mark when Hope scored on a triple and then a jumper, to go up by four points, 19-15, with 5:40 to play in the half. The Thunder then outscored the Dutch, 9-2, during the next 2:47 that included seven straight points which ended in a jumper by Sophie Sloneker that made the score, 24-21, in favor of Trine. Hope regained the lead with back-to-back layups, but it didn't last long as a layup by Bieniewicz for the final points of the half, sent the Thunder into the locker rooms with a slim, 26-25, advantage.
Hope started the third quarter by outscoring Trine, 9-4, to put a little distance between them and the Thunder with a six-point lead, 35-29. But consecutive three-pointers by Bieniewicz and Steers quickly erased the deficit and evened the score at, 35-35, with 5:14 to go. After a span of just over two scoreless minutes by both teams, Bieniewicz connected on another triple that regained the lead for the Thunder, 38-35, at the 3:11 mark. All four of Trine's made field goals in the final six minutes came from behind the arc as sophomore Kaylee Agyle (Freeland, Mich./Freeland) also hit from deep that tied the game at 41-41 before a jumper by Hope, followed by a Dutch three-pointer, put the home team ahead by five points, 46-41, heading into the final frame.
Hope began to pull away in the fourth quarter as the Dutch outscored Trine, 9-3, to open up an 11-point advantage with just over three minutes left in regulation, 55-44. Trine pulled to within six points thanks to five unanswered points that came on a pair of jumpers by Taylor and one-of-two free-throws by Bieniewicz. But that was as close as the Thunder got the rest of the way as the Dutch put the game away at the charity stripe thanks to four straight freebies en route to the 59-52 final.
Trine will be the second seed in this year's MIAA Tournament that begins next week. The Thunder will receive a first-round "bye" and will compete in the semifinals that will be played on Friday, Feb. 28 in Holland, Mich. Trine will play the winner of No. 3 Albion (Mich.) College vs. Nov. 6 Saint Mary's (Ind.) College which will be played on Wednesday night. The start time for Trine's game on Friday is set for 5:30 p.m. at DeVos Fieldhouse.
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