Editor’s Note: Above image of Josiah Johnson provided by the UMHB Athletics Department and was taken by Scott Burkhalter.
BELTON, Texas- In head coach Clif Carroll’s first home game in Belton, his Crusaders did not disappoint, fighting conference foe Concordia (TX) hard, though they fell in a high-scoring, 106-101 affair Friday night.
It was a game marked by lead changes, 13 to be exact. The back and forth contest, which was a non-conference game though played by two conference opponents, was close right from the tip, with the lead switching six times within the first 10 minutes of the first half. Two Carson Hammond free throws with 34 seconds left in the first put the Cru in front, though Concordia’s Luis Gonzalez countered with a jumper 10 seconds later, tying the game at 51 apiece heading into halftime.
The second half was much of the same, with the contest culminating in the final minutes. The Tornados of Concordia went up by six, 98-92, with just three minutes left on the clock, though UMHB was never out of the contest. The Cru’s Darius Musa then found his mark from behind the arc, draining a three-pointer, and Josiah Johnson followed him with a three-point play, as he was fouled on a short-range jumper and converted the free throw to knot it at 98. The 5-0 Concordia run that ensued did not help UMHB’s chances, however. The Crusaders had their opportunities to cut the deficit, but missed three straight three-point tries. Johnson would drain a shot from behind the arc with 11 seconds, making it a one-possession game, the score 104-101. The Tornados had no trouble sealing the victory, though, as Trevon Hester made two key free throws late.
As the Crusaders found themselves on the losing end of the contest, it certainly was not the way they had hoped their home opener would end. However, it was a strong offensive performance, and the Cru showed an ability to defeat a solid full-court press employed by Concordia for much of the game. At the same time, it was obvious that the visitors from Austin were hyped for the contest after having not played a single non-conference game before making the trip to Belton Friday.
In his UMHB home debut, Johnson, who entered the contest as the points per game leader in D3, posted a double-double, with 39 points and 11 rebounds. Hammond was just two assists shy of a triple-double, with 15 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
Friday’s loss is an example of the nature of college basketball. UMHB did not play bad. The Cru did not even play average. But on certain nights, even your best performance may not result in the win. Concordia managed a few more shots, and outscored its opponents 31-21 in points off turnovers, pulling out the victory in an evenly-matched contest.
There is little time to dwell on the loss, as the Crusaders will be back at the Mayborn Campus Center in less than 24 hours for a 3 p.m. tip-off against D2 Midwestern State. The Mustangs bring a high-powered offense to Belton and are 5-1 on the season.