ABILENE, Texas- A rough day from the free throw line and a challenging road atmosphere proved to be just too much for the UMHB women’s basketball team, as the Cru fell to Hardin-Simmons, 68-55, on Thursday night.
The loss moves the Cru to 6-3 on the season and 2-2 in conference play. Hardin-Simmons, with an identical conference record, sits tied with both UMHB and Sul Ross State for the lead in the ASC West Division standings.
Paced by forward Hannah Eggleston, who scored a team-high 10 points in the loss, the Cru had 28 points in the paint. However, it was the bench that kept UMHB in the contest, as guard Alexia Martin played 25 minutes and scored nine points. Point guard Madison McCoy scored eight in 18 minutes of action. By the final buzzer, 28 points had come from nine players off the bench.
The Cowgirls of Hardin-Simmons jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after an early Bethany McLeod foul sent HSU’s Brittany Schnabel to the line. McLeod quickly made up for it though, driving to the lane for a layup that tied the contest at two exactly 20 seconds later. That would be the nature of the contest in the first half, with UMHB taking a narrow 19-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. As it turned out, that was the only quarter in which the Cru outscored the Cowgirls. Head coach Mark Morefield’s squad from Belton opened the second quarter with a 6-0 run, establishing what turned out to be the Crusaders’ largest lead of the game, as they led by six points at the 7:37 mark.
However, after UMHB’s Cheyanne Bonilla knocked down a three with 3:02 to play, giving the Cru a 33-29 lead, HSU played phenomenal defense, holding its opponent scoreless for the remainder of the half, while closing out the final three minutes on a 7-0 run.
A 14-6 run to open the third quarter by the Cowgirls put it out of reach for UMHB, though an inspired effort late in the third, cut the deficit to just five. That was as close as the Crusaders would get, though, as HSU pulled away in the fourth, hanging on for the victory.
Free-throw shooting hurt the Crusaders on this particular night, as they went just 5-of-12 from the charity stripe, shooting just 41 percent.
There was a big positive though, for UMHB, as the team’s 15 blocked shots broke the ASC single-game record. That was in large part due to the efforts of Eggleston, who had four, center Allaira Jones who contributed with three. Interestingly, the previous mark of 14 was set by UMHB back in 2003 and Belhaven in 2016.
There is little time to dwell on the loss, as a matchup at McMurry in Abilene is scheduled for Saturday. The Cru tip off against the Warhawks at 1 p.m. CT.