CLARKSVILLE, Arkansas- After losing in its ASC opener to UT Dallas on Thursday, the UMHB women’s basketball team bounced back, defeating Ozarks 75-57 on Saturday behind a strong third quarter.
The victory moves the Cru to 5-2 on the season, and 1-1 in conference play.
Defense was the key to the Cru’s road win, as Ozarks was held to a mere 2-of-13 shooting from the field in the first quarter. That paved the way to a 23-10 lead with seven minutes left in the second quarter, though the Eagles of Ozarks mounted an 8-0 run to close the gap to just five, 23-18, with 2:40 to play. The Crusaders then put together an 8-0 run of their own, taking a 31-18 lead into the half. Ashley Faux scored the final bucket of half, taking the ball coast-to-coast on a fastbreak, laying it in to give the Cru another 13-point advantage.
While the first half showed signs of a victory, the third quarter solidified UMHB’s win. Guard Bethany McLeod, who led the Cru with 10 points, scored eight in the third. Behind 18 bench points in the quarter, the visitors from Belton led by 24, 56-32, as the fourth got underway. From there, head coach Mark Morefield’s squad sealed the win, its first conference victory of the season.
A balanced scoring effort has been a critical component of the Cru’s early season successes this season. 16 different players scored for UMHB, and McLeod was the only one in double-figures. Allaira Jones was strong on the boards, pulling down 11 rebounds.
Turnovers do continue to be an issue for this young squad, as Ozarks forced 20 turnovers. On Thursday, the Cru turned the ball over 24 times. It is an area where Morefield would like to see more out of his team, and will play a role in close games down the stretch.
Madison McCoy, playing in just her second game of the season after recovering from injury, rebounded from a rough first outing Thursday, scoring nine points in nine minutes of action. Her limited playing time is something Morefield spoke of last week, saying that he and his staff were going to take an NBA-type approach to McCoy, resting her when necessary and not playing her too often, too soon. She also entered the week nursing an ankle sprain.
On Thursday, the Crusaders return to Belton for their home conference opener, battling Louisiana College at 5:30 p.m. Louisiana College is 1-0 on the season, and has not yet played a conference game. The Wildcats’ scheduled contests for this week against Howard Payne and Sul Ross State were postponed, due to COVID-19 protocols in the Louisiana College program.