BELTON, Texas- A great defensive effort and clutch free throw shooting late paved the way to the UMHB women’s basketball team’s second consecutive conference win on Saturday, as the Cru took down Belhaven in its home conference opener, 75-63.
Coming into the contest, head coach Mark Morefield had emphasized to his team the importance of defending Belhaven’s three-point shooting, as the Blazers entered the game averaging 37 attempts from behind the arc per game. The Crusaders certainly did that, holding the Blazers to a mere 20 percent from three point range.
“Defense has really been carrying us this year,” said Morefield postgame. “We can get production from a lot of different people, and our defense has been solid. There were 52 fouls called, so it is hard to get a flow when you have a lot of stoppage. The good thing is our defense has been consistent.
“You play games in non-conference to help with certain things. Playing Abilene Christian, who is an elite level three-point shooting team that we went up against, and I believe up to this point we held them to their fewest three-point makes in a game this season. That’s great because it gave us some preparation for this Belhaven game.”
Fouls also played a crucial role in the game, as 52 fouls were called between both teams. Making the most of its trips to the line, UMHB shot 67 percent from the charity stripe, and an impressive 91 percent in the fourth quarter as the Cru sealed the victory.
UMHB never trailed after jumping out to a early 7-0 lead. Though Belhaven made several attempts to close the gap, the Cru defense was stifling, and by the end of the first quarter, UMHB led 14-6.
Belhaven then found its offensive rhythm in the second and third quarters, with UMHB barely outscoring the Blazers, 21-19, and 19-17, respectively.
Riding a 54-42 advantage into the fourth, the Crusaders widened that lead to as many as 18 points, before Belhaven put together a late scoring run of its own to get the lead to nine with just over a minute to play. However, as mentioned above, it was the incredible free throw shooting for the Cru that sealed the win.
Depth worked to Morefield’s advantage, as 14 different players saw the court, with all but two of them scoring. In fact, 41 of UMHB’s points came from players off the bench.
12 of those points came from freshmen Kaitlyn Kollmorgen and Ashley Faux, two players who Morefield has given more and more minutes to as the season has progressed.
“Kaitlyn just keeps getting better and better and better,” said Morefield. “There’s a couple things that we continue to have to work on with her, shot blocking is one of them, but she brings energy. That’s crucial. She does some things that you can’t teach. Ashley has a good IQ, and is doing some great things as well. They’re both coming along at a good rate, and will be huge cornerstones for our future.”
Taylor Kollmorgen, the team’s leading rebounder and scorer entering the contest, did not start, as Morefield and his staff continue to tinker with the lineup. She did end up playing 12 minutes and battled foul trouble, though she scored six points. For a small fraction of those 12 minutes, she was joined on the floor by Kaitlyn, who came off the bench to score seven points and pull down eight rebounds. It was the first time this season that the two had seen time on the hardwood together.
Junior forward Allaira Jones, in her second start of the year, led the Cru with 10 points, and added eight rebounds.
Up next for the Cru is a road trip up north to Abilene, as the team will face Hardin-Simmons Thursday and take on McMurry on Saturday.