GEORGETOWN, Texas – After a rough start, the Southwestern University Pirates men's basketball team got a big boost from its bench to go on to defeat the Trinity University Tigers 78-69.
The Pirates started ice cold from the field, missing their first eight shots in the first four minutes of play while Tigers guard Isaiah Specks hit three consecutive baskets and Trinity got out to a 12-3 lead.
Head coach Janson Hightower turned to his reserves five minutes into the game and guards Justin McCormack, Luke Hicks, and Joel Martinez settled the Pirates with a trio of jumpers and backup center Trenton Garrett supplied great energy to give the Pirates a 13-12 lead Southwestern would never relinquish.
Southwestern University's second unit outscored their counterparts 22-13, helping to change the tempo of the game with two steals each from Hicks and Martinez while Garrett had two demonstrative blocks, altering other shots and pulling down five rebounds in heavy traffic in 12 minutes of play, scoring eight points on four shots and 4-for-4 shooting from the free-throw line.
The Pirates played with quick hands on defense, digging in on dribble penetration and swarming whenever the Tigers failed to adequately maintain their spacing, overcoming a 34.2 percent shooting performance in the first half by forcing 11 turnovers—including seven steals—to take a 35-27 lead at halftime.
After shooting 1-for-8 for three points in the first half, Brandon Alexander caught fire in the second to finish with 24 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 4-for-11 from the 3-point line working to open spots in transition and drive-and-kick opportunities and 4-for-7 inside, overpowering select matchups and converting with soft short-range jumpers. Alexander was able to put up 18 shots without dominating the ball, working within the flow of the offense while also tying the team-high with five assists.
Andrew Puhl contributed 16 points as the only other Pirate in double figures while Jake Holmes had nine points, six rebounds, and two steals, hitting 4-for-5 from the field. Kyle Howard matched Alexander's five assists and also contributed five rebounds. Hicks had seven points on 3-for-5 shooting with four rebounds off the bench.
Isaiah Specks led the Tigers with 25 points on 11-for-21 shooting, showcasing a nasty jab step and soft pull-up jumper. The Pirates were able to mitigate his individual offense by keeping his work separated from his teammates (only two assists to five turnovers) and keeping him off the free-throw line (2-for-2). Aaron Knopp had an efficient 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
With the victory, the Pirates improve to 10-8 on the season and 7-2 in conference play. Trinity drops to 3-15, including 3-6 in conference. Southwestern will hit the road next weekend to play Colorado College on Friday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. and JWU on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7:00 p.m.