RICHARDSON, Texas- 24 turnovers along with poor free throw shooting resulted in a 62-58 loss for the UMHB women’s basketball team Thursday night, as the Cru opened up conference play against UT Dallas.
Though UMHB led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, UT Dallas came roaring back, riding a wave of momentum throughout the fourth quarter. Trying desperately to hang onto its lead, the Cru fought hard for the final 10 minutes, but several questionable calls that went in the direction of the Comets sent UTD to the free-throw line often, on six occasions to be exact. The home squad shot eight of nine from the charity stripe in the final quarter, including a key make from Raenett Hughes to make it a two possession game with 11 seconds to play. In perhaps the defining moment of the contest, Hughes drove to the line and fired a jumper from midrange with 2:28 to play, cutting the UMHB lead to a single point, 55-54. As the Cru’s Madison McCoy brought the ball up the court, she was called for a charging foul, putting the ball back in UTD’s hands. The Comets would take advantage of the opportunity as the bench was on its feet, and Jordan Maxwell got a layup to go, giving UTD the lead for the remainder of the contest.
The way the game ended for the Cru was hard to watch, it was not purely poor play in the fourth quarter that dropped the visitors from Belton to 0-1 in ASC play. Rather, it was the way the game started that hurt the Crusaders for the rest of the game. The Cru came out shooting ice cold, and appeared to be overwhelmed early on. In fact, it was guard A’Lexiss Benton who would come off the bench to score first for UMHB, knocking down a three with 7:29 to go in the first quarter to tie the game. Interior play seemed to be lacking in that first quarter, though the Cru took a 17-14 advantage into the second quarter, behind 10 points in the paint. From that point on, UMHB appeared to be in the driver’s seat, locking down on defense and holding Hughes, UTD’s leading scorer, to a miserable 0-of-8 shooting in the first half.
Of course, the story of the game was written in the fourth, as the Cru could do nothing to stop UTD’s high-powered offensive attack. Of course, nine turnovers that the Comets turned into 10 points did not help the matter.
One big positive was the fact that McCoy played her first minutes of the season. She had been questionable entering the contest with an ankle sprain, and had sat out non-conference play because of a knee injury. Her presence, though she picked up four fouls in just 10 minutes of action, greatly helped this young squad. That was especially evident in the final minutes, as McCoy, a senior, had the poise and confidence of a “true floor leader”.
Benton finished the game as UMHB’s leading scorer, with 11 points and three assists. Forward Hannah Eggleston managed to avoid foul trouble to pull down a team-high eight rebounds and score 10 points.
Though the loss is a tough one to swallow, the focus will be ahead for this team, as the Crusaders hit the road and take on Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas on Saturday at 1 p.m. It will be UMHB’s second conference game of the season, as the Cru head into the matchup with a 4-2 record.
The areas to improve on? Head coach Mark Morefield and his staff are sure to have plenty that they would like to see done better, but limiting turnovers looks to be priority No. 1.