Top-ranked Trinity used a strong finishing kick to put the finishing touches on a 65-51 victory over No. 19 Lafayette on Friday night.
The defending state champion Shamrocks led by only 50-49 with 4:30 left. Their 10-game winning streak and No. 1 rating looked in jeopardy.
But not for long.
Trey Ivory's fourth three-pointer of the night followed by a driving, twisting layup sparked a 15-2 closing rush by Trinity. Lafayette managed only two free throws down the stretch.
Never miss a local story.
"We just played hard-nosed defense. That was it," said James Quick, who led the Rocks with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Darryl Hicks had 17 points and Ivory added 14 points and four assists.
Lafayette held the upper hand most of the first half.
The Generals went on a 9-0 run midway through the second quarter, capped by a Charles Sweatt-Washington fast-break dunk that gave the hosts a 30-20 lead.
Trinity ended a five-minute scoring drought and trailed 31-24 at halftime.
Lafayette's tall lineup, packed in a zone, forced Trinity to fire (and miss) from the outside for the first 16 minutes.
"I thought we settled for the first open shot," Rocks Coach Mike Szabo said. "We needed to move the ball better, share it a little better, get into the gaps and try to get around the basket."
Quick and Hicks, a combined 4-for-17 shooting in the first half, took their coach's advice.
"We came out and attacked the rim more," said Quick, Trinity's multi-sport star who has signed to play football at Louisville. "We took our time in our possessions and took good shots. Basically we slowed down and played our game."
Quick and Hicks were 8-for-13 in the second half.
"We kind of won ugly," Szabo said. "Sometimes you have to do that. We grinded it out. I was proud of the way we did what was needed."
Lafayette had only one player, Jackson Davis, in double figures. The 6-foot-8 junior had 11 points, 15 rebounds and three assists.
The Generals shot 48 percent in the first half, but 32 percent in the second. Coach Mike Mendenhall credited Trinity's defense.
"They picked up the physicality and really got after us in the half court.
"In the fourth quarter (the referees) kind of let you play more, so we've gotta learn how to finish when we have contact."
Sweatt-Washington had eight points and six rebounds for Lafayette. Aaron Evans had eight points, and Nick Trisko added seven points and five rebounds.
Late last season Lafayette played at Trinity and had 38 turnovers in a 99-41 meltdown loss. This time around the Generals were in the hunt until the closing minutes, and Mendenhall saw that as progress.
"I want these guys to believe we can play with anybody, and I don't think we had that last year," he said. "I hope we're turning that corner and believing we can compete with anybody."
TRINITY (22-4) — Hicks 17, Quick 18, Ivory 14, Page 6, Rice 2, Storthman 2, Spalding 6.
LAFAYETTE (14-10) — Davis 11, Sweatt-Washington 8, Trisko 7, Evans 8, Blakley 7, Robinson 6, Chester 4.
Trinity 14 10 21 20—65
Lafayette 19 12 10 10—51