Trinity pounds St. Joseph to claim share of GCAC Red title
Updated: January 29, 2013 2:32PM
RIVER FOREST — When Trinity lost star guard Mikayla Leyden to a knee injury last month, the Blazers were in search of a reliable third scorer to go with Lauren Prochaska and Taylor Nazon.
The search didn’t last long. Freshman guard Annie McKenna has risen to the challenge, increasing her scoring and pairing with Prochaska and Nazon to form one of the most potent backcourts around.
McKenna scored 17 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, and added five assists and four steals Thursday night as host Trinity rolled to a 76-47 GCAC Red victory over St. Joseph in River Forest.
The win, combined with Mother McAuley’s victory over Loyola, means Trinity (15-3, 6-1) shares the GCAC Red regular-season title with McAuley and Loyola.
“She’s that third scorer,” Trinity coach Ed Stritzel said of McKenna. “We lost Leyden, so the question is who is going to be our third scorer, and she’s playing better. I want to count on her for that 10-12 points every game.”
McKenna, whose career high is 21 points, had eight points in the first quarter alone, including the first basket of the game and a 3-pointer that triggered a 15-2 run that gave the Blazers a 21-9 lead.
“With (Leyden’s) injury I knew I had to step up my game because they needed a third scorer,” McKenna said. “I try to play my best for the team because we wanted to win. I love the competition.”
McKenna and Prochaska combined to carve up St. Joseph’s defense with impressive ease, trading assists back-and-forth with regularity. Prochaska had 20 points, eight assists and five steals, while Nazon chipped in 13 points.
“It’s great that she’s decided to step up and be that third scorer,” Prochaska said of McKenna, who was 5-for-6 from beyond the arc. “We tell her we have confidence in her, so she’s been doing a great job filling that role and we all have confidence in her.”
St. Joseph (6-14, 2-4), which has lost five straight and 10 of its last 11, scored six straight points to pull within 25-17 late in the first quarter, but Trinity responded with a 10-0 run and boosted the cushion to 41-23 at halftime.
The Blazers continued to excel in the third quarter, starting the second half with a 9-2 run. Prochaska had nine points during the period, which ended with Trinity ahead 55-32.
“Our kids are playing good,” Stritzel said. “I think our kids are getting better and better and better. We’re spreading the floor and now we’re getting healthier.”
Freshman Maryam Wilcher had 12 points and six rebounds and Shannon McGinnis added seven points, 11 rebounds and three assists for Trinity, which made 30-of-60 of its field-goal attempts.
Shaakera Jones paced the Chargers with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Chanel Brown chipped in 13 points and 11 boards.