Each week, the Taylor Sports Update will publish online on Friday before our print edition publishes on Monday.
The receiving-votes Taylor women’s basketball team kicked off last week with consecutive wins over the University of Saint Francis on Saturday and Tuesday.
Tuesday’s matchup started the Crossroads League Tournament for the Trojans, and the 73-51 victory set up a matchup with Indiana Wesleyan in the semifinals on Friday.
Junior guard Lauren James led Taylor against Saint Francis with 26 points and helped TU grab a big lead early as she scored 10 points in the opening stanza en route to a 25-5 lead. James also had four assists and five rebounds.
Junior forward Kayla Kirtley put up 17 points of her own. Junior guard Merideth Deckard was the third trojan in double-figures with 10 points.
Freshman Taylor Westgate had eight points and nine boards, five of which were offensive, off the bench.
Taylor, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, split the regular-season series with IWU, who is the No. 2 seed in the tournament and ranked twentieth nationally.
The Crossroads Tournament Championship Game is on Monday, Mar. 1 at 7 p.m. The NAIA National Tournament will start on Mar. 12.
Wednesday’s 66-74 loss to No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan spelled the end of the Taylor men’s basketball team’s season.
IWU, who has spent a majority of the season ranked No. 1 nationally, never built a lead above eight in the matchup. TU’s defense was stout throughout the evening and held the Wildcats to their lowest scoring total of the season, but IWU’s defense was potent as well.
Taylor lost the game on the interior, as they struggled with the size of their Grant County rivals. TU lost both the rebounding battle and the points-in-the-paint battle.
Junior CJ Penha had a strong performance, particularly in the second half. A quick burst out of halftime from the Wildcats and an injury to fellow Junior Jason Hubbard spelled potential danger for the Trojans, but Penha scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half to help keep TU around.
Hubbard did return later in the half, despite the injury to his shooting-arm. He managed to score 14 points and added 7 rebounds and 4 assists, despite playing with an injury for the latter-portion of the game.
Senior Vincent Miranda, who joined the 1,000 point-club against Saint Francis on Feb. 20, had 10 points in his final game. Fellow senior James McCloud also added 10 points in the performance.
According to taylortrojans.com, Penha, who averaged 20.1 points per game on the season, became the first Trojan to score over 20 a game since Casey Coons in 2011-12. Right behind Penha, Hubbard finished his season with a 19.2 scoring average.
Track and Field
The Crossroads League held their indoor championships last weekend at Taylor University, where the Trojan men took home sixth-place and the women grabbed third.
Twelve athletes received All-Crossroads League honors, with six on each team.
The women’s 4x800 relay team of junior Abby Brennan, junior Giovanna Domene, sophomore Brooke Studnicki and junior Corinne O’Leary posted a season-best time and took home first in the competition.
Senior Livy Schroder also garnered first-place in an event, as she set a personal-best in the 5,000 meters and won the Crossroads League title for the event.
The other All-Crossroads League performer for the women’s squad was freshman Patience Sakeuh. She placed second in the 60-meter dash and third in the 60-meter hurdles.
The All-Crossroads League winners on the men’s side were sophomore Caleb Schutte in 200-meters, juniors Alex Helmuth and Derek Van Prooyen in the 5,000 meters, senior Adam Nichols in the High Jump, freshman Jake Thompson in the Long Jump and sophomore Liam Hesting in the weight throw.
Helmuth and Hesting set Taylor records in their respective competitions.
The National Indoor Championships will start Mar. 3.
The Lacrosse team started their third year as a varsity program at 1-1.
After a 20-6 loss to No. 9 Saint Ambrose University on Feb. 18, they rebounded with a 16-13 victory over Missouri Baptist the next day.
The victory over MBU was sparked by a fourth-quarter comeback, in which the Trojans scored six goals in the final stanza and held their opponent to two.
The win over Missouri Baptist was crucial for the young program, as it marked only the second victory over a team either ranked in the NAIA Top 25 or receiving votes for the poll. The 16-goal output was also the third-highest mark in program history according to taylortrojans.com.
Taylor battled with Anderson University on Thursday, Feb. 25 and has a bout with Earlham College on Mar. 1.
Another young varsity program, the Taylor competitive cheer program competed in their first-ever event on Feb. 19 in the Saint Francis Invitational, where they garnered sixth-place.
“I couldn’t be happier with the team’s performance,” Head Coach Hannah Kirby said In a story on taylortrojans.com.
The cheer program is the only co-ed program within the Taylor Athletic Department and was competing with some of the top teams in the country during their first event.
The Crossroads League Championships for cheer will take place this Saturday, Feb. 27.
Football and Baseball
The Taylor football team and baseball program will resume play this weekend, with the opening game for the football team coming on Saturday. The baseball team has a home series scheduled with Indiana Tech, starting today.