Above image provided by the UMHB Athletics Department; Image by Scott Burkhalter
LONGVIEW, Texas- UMHB’s Josiah Johnson poured in 39 points, but it was not enough to overcome a fast-paced LeTourneau attack, as the Cru fell on the road 84-67.
From the opening tip-off, LeTourneau used its home court advantage to race out to a 11-0 lead early in the first half. The Cru made several attempts to close the gap, forcing the YellowJackets to fire quick shots, and went on a 10-4 run, culminated by a Carson Hammond layup to close out the first half.
The always-ready Johnson picked up right where the Cru had left off to begin the second half, stealing the ball and racing up court for a layup, pulling UMHB within five, 39-34. Hammond, a sharpshooter from beyond the three-point arc, followed that up by swishing a three, slicing the deficit to a mere two points. With the game hanging in the imbalance, and about 16 minutes to play, LeTourneau’s Andrew Eberhardt found his mark from mid-range, knocking down a jumper to extend the lead, and ignite what turned into a 9-2 run for the YellowJackets.
Eberhardt finished with a team-high 27 points, anchoring the YellowJackets offensively.
From that point on, the Cru were forced to play catchup, with the defense overwhelmed by LeTourneau’s shooting and aggressiveness in the paint. For the final 10 minutes of action, UMHB never got the lead down to single digits.
In a game like this, the box score is telling. Following the game, LeTourneau head coach Dan Miller said that it was his team’s mission to “stop UMHB on the boards”. The YellowJackets certainly did that, outrebounding UMHB 49-39, and eliminating the possibility of second-chance points for the Crusaders. The Cru scored just seven second-chance points, and were also limited to just 12 offensive rebounds. That was the deciding factor, though not the only reason the visitors from Belton walked away with the loss. The Cru shot just 38 percent from the field and just 18 percent from three-point range. Not to mention, they also turned the ball over 20 times.
The matchup to watch pitted Johnson, arguably the Cru’s most dangerous scoring weapon, against former UMHB guard Jordan Pride, who transferred to LeTourneau prior to this season. Though Pride managed just four points, he played lockdown defense on Johnson in the second half. However, Johnson’s big first half, in which he scored 21, is what kept UMHB in the game.
Besides Johnson, forward Kobe Ollison made an impact, scoring 12 points. Two of those came on a slam dunk with about 16 seconds to play in the second half. Forward Aedan Welch pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.
With the loss, the Cru drop to 2-2 on the season, and play East Texas Baptist Saturday in Marshall, Texas, with a 3 p.m. tip-off.