Editor’s Note: Image by Luke Zayas/ True To The Cru
BELTON, Texas- Wow, did it feel good to be back inside the Mayborn Campus Center. In the home opener Friday night, the UMHB women’s basketball team used a solid second quarter to take down Arlington Baptist, 76-56, and move to 2-0 on the season.
“We haven’t played a home game since last February,” said head coach Mark Morefield postgame. “It’s just a different environment, but I like what we’re seeing.”
While the Patriots of ABU started off quickly, going up 10-4 early in the first quarter, the Cru roared back, with the quarter culminating on a Hannah Eggleston jumper as the buzzer sounded. That 20-18 lead marked UMHB’s first lead of the game, and the Cru never looked back, going on a 23-8 run in the second quarter.
“I think our defensive intensity picked up,” said Morefield of the Cru’s excellent second quarter. “We have to be consistent defensively with the defensive intensity. That’s when we were getting shots, our defense was leading to our offense.”
The offensive attack for the Cru began with Alexia Martin, a guard who scored all 14 of her points in the first half. She went two of three from behind the three-point arc, and led the team in scoring.
“She has done a tremendous job,” said Morefield of Martin’s play. “Here’s a girl that was in a role last year coming off the bench, and she took that scoring opportunity and it’s been tremendous for her. She’s grown in leadership, and those are things that have mattered. “
Overall, it was a very balanced performance offensively from the Cru, with Martin, Olivia Champion, and Brooke Elliot all scoring in double figures, and reflected the amount of depth this year’s squad has. By the time the final buzzer sounded, 16 players had seen the floor, with all but four of them scoring.
“We have a lot of depth,” said Morefield postgame. “The one thing is we have depth that can play, though it’ll be young depth and take some time, but you look at some of the freshman that played Tuesday night [against UNT-Dallas] and they played a 2-3 zone. Tonight they played a little more pressure. That is what we talked about, you got to adjust. Just because you played well two nights before, doesn’t mean that will carry over. It is just a learning and maturity process.”
As in every victory, there is always room to improve, and Morefield made note of several things that need to be improved before taking on division one Abilene Christian on Thursday. One of which is limiting turnovers, as Arlington Baptist forced 23 turnovers and UMHB had trouble at times breaking the Patriots’ full-court press in the second half.
“There’s things we still have to do better, but that’s what we do,” said Morefield. “We don’t want to devalue wins, but we want to learn from something. We were flat in certain instances on defense, we weren’t talking, there’s just some things we were doing that we have to get better at.”
With the upcoming matchup in Abilene looming large for this team, facing a quality opponent in the Patriots, who have won the last five National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) national championships, was critical.
“We have some girls who had D1 offers coming out of high school and things like that, so we have girls that have that caliber,” said Morefield, “and the one thing that you want to get is balance of different looks. We played a zone team on Tuesday night, tonight we played more of a run and jump, pressure-type defense, and what we’re going to see on Thursday night is a lot of three-point shooting. So it gives us a lot of different variety to see different things, which is important because that is what we have to get accustomed to. We don’t want to play just one certain style. We want to continue to see different styles, and just get acclimated.”
There were points when UMHB looked like a national championship caliber squad, such as when Champion drove to the lane, adding in a perfectly executed eurostep past three ABU defenders for a layup late in the fourth. There were other times when the early season rust was still evident. But regardless, it simply felt good to have college basketball back in Belton.
“That’s the bottom line, just a chance to play,” said Morefield when talking about being thankful for every game. “This might be the only two games we play all year, who knows? That’s the important thing, to get games in.”