BELTON, Texas- Josiah Johnson’s SportsCenter-worthy halfcourt buzzer beater before halftime proved to be the spark the UMHB men’s basketball team needed, as the Cru used a strong second half to take down Belhaven, 109-91, on Saturday.
The victory moves the Crusaders to 2-0 in conference play, as they defeated Louisiana College on Thursday to open the conference slate.
The contest was truly a tale of two halves, as the Crusaders trailed for much of the first half, giving up easy baskets. However, late in the half, UMHB put together a nice scoring run, which resulted in a seven-point lead. The Blazers of Belhaven would pull back in front, though, and held a 43-42 lead with just over three seconds to play. That’s when Johnson, who finished with a team-high of 34 points, took a Carson Hammond pass and fired a desparation shot from beyond centercourt.
The ball swished through the net, immediately breathing a new sense of energy into the crowd of 394, as Belhaven walked off the court in amazement.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
It sparked an huge second half that began with UMHB guard Kobe Richardson knocking down a three-pointer. That gave way to a 25-12 scoring run that pretty much sealed the second straight conference win for Carroll’s squad. The Cru would go on to shoot 59 percent in the half, and outscored the Blazers 63-49, as the lead swelled to as much as 25 points.
“That’s probably part of it,” said Carroll when asked if Johnson’s shot was what gave UMHB its second-half momentum. “When you have a cool play like that, everybody gets fired up. But we had to go in there as coaches and challenge those guys to be better. We weren’t executing our game plan. I felt like we executed so much better defensively in the second half.”
Though Johnson led the team in scoring, Hammond chipped in with 18, and added 12 rebounds for the double-double. Aedan Welch had 17 and Richardson scored 12.
“Tonight is was more about team effort,” said Carroll. “We moved the ball well, we found open shots. Again, it is a young team growing up. Guys are playing with more confidence. We had a good rhythm going, and found a lot of shots at the rim. Whenever you can do that, you give yourself a chance to win.”
A trip to Abilene awaits the Crusaders, as they will face Hardin-Simmons Thursday before battling McMurry on Saturday.