LONGVIEW, Texas- Behind a well-executed gameplan, the UMHB women’s basketball team held off a late rally from ASC rival LeTourneau on Friday night, defeating the YellowJackets 67-64 in a game that came down to the final seconds.
After UMHB forward Hannah Eggleston got a layup to go with 47 seconds left in the game, the Cru went up 67-61. LeTourneau was not done, though, as Malacia Guy knocked down a three-pointer with just under 40 seconds to play, putting the YellowJackets within one possession, down 67-64 . However, the Cru used a series of passes to get through LeTourneau’s full-court press, using all five players to keep the ball in motion and run down the clock before the YellowJackets were forced to foul multiple times in the final 30 seconds. Allaira Jones went to the charity stripe with just three seconds to play, but missed both free throws, giving LeTourneau one last chance to tie it up. But Keauna Whitfield’s desperation shot from midcourt was off the mark at the buzzer, as UMHB improved to 4-1 on the season.
It was a well-earned victory for the Cru, the first time they had faced a fellow American Southwest Conference (ASC) opponent this season. The YellowJackets certainly proved to be a challenge, even opening the second half with a 17-10 scoring run, taking their first lead of the second half, 43-42, at the 4:23 mark in the third.
On this depth-filled UMHB team, each contest brings about new contributors, and head coach Mark Morefield has quickly learned he can rely on more than just two or three players to carry the team. On this particular evening, it was freshman Ashley Faux who stepped up in a big way, scoring a career-high and team-best 16 points, 12 of those coming in the first half. It was a game to remember for the forward, who was a force on both ends of the floor, tallying three blocks, and three steals to go along with nine rebounds. She was joined by fellow freshman Cheyanne Bonilla, a guard who had the second most points on the team with 10.
Morefield has repeatedly said that this year’s team is one of his best rebounding teams in recent seasons, and it showed on Friday, with the Cru winning the rebounding battle 51-40, and perhaps more importantly, scoring 11 second chance points. UMHB’s speed factor also played into the victory, as the Cru limited LeTourneau in transition, holding the YellowJackets to zero fast break points, while they put up 15 of their own.
Beyond what the box score might read, there is no doubt that the the Cru are battle-tested as they prepare to embark on a challenging conference slate set to come in January. Defeating LeTourneau was just another element, another piece to the puzzle, as Morefield and his team aim to claim yet another conference title this season. The year 2020 concluded with a victory for UMHB, and there is no doubt that 2021 will give way to many more.
Up next for the Cru is a home exhibition against North American University, a NAIA school out of Houston, on January 2 at 3 p.m., before the ASC opener on the road at UT-Dallas on January 7.