BROWNWOOD, Texas- A rough shooting day led to the third straight conference loss for the UMHB women’s basketball team, as the Cru fell to Howard Payne, 63-56, on Saturday.
From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the Cru simply could not connect on its shots, and the opening quarter was evidence of that. The two teams combined to make just six shots, as Howard Payne led 11-9 after the first quarter. UMHB shot a mere 22 percent from the field in the first, but the Yellow Jackets of Howard Payne did not fare much better, shooting just 28 percent.
While the first period was a glimpse into the rest of the game for both squads, the second was where HPU decided to make its move. The Yellow Jackets challenged the Crusader defense, putting together a 10-0 run to lead 27-15 with 3:43 left in the half. The Cru quickly countered, however, with a 7-2 run to close the gap to just seven, 29-22, as the second quarter drew to a close.
15 first-half turnovers allowed HPU just too many scoring opportunities, which set the tone for the second half. Though head coach Mark Morefield did everything he could to instill a fire into his squad at the break, it was not enough. The lead was sliced to just five at one point early in the third, but the Yellow Jackets, playing at home, had an answer for each UMHB scoring run. By the end of the third, HPU had only extended its lead, now up by 12, 45-33. While the lead got to as many as 14 with 3:30 left in the contest, the Crusaders abandoned the fight. Ashley Faux and Allaira Jones combined for consecutive buckets with under two minutes to go, and Cheyanne Bonilla knocked down a three-pointer to pull the deficit to just seven, 57-50, with 1:36 to play. But the Yellow Jackets were automatic from the free-throw line, and sealed a victory few saw coming in the final seconds.
Jones was the star of the game for the Cru, as the junior came off the bench to shoot 7-of-9 from the field, 5-of-8 from the line, and post a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Jones was the only Crusader in double figures on this night, though sophomore Hannah Eggleston chipped in with eight points.
Throughout this season, Morefield has spoke of losses caused by his team’s mistakes, things such as turnovers, bad shots, and a lack of rebounding. It is safe to say Morefield might put this most recent one in that category. UMHB did not play “bad” by any means, and in fact, forced HPU to turn the ball over on 25 occasions. But a 33 percent shooting night from the field did not help in the Crusaders’ effort, nor did getting outscored in every quarter except the fourth. However this is just one example of the way college basketball works; there are bound to be rough patches in a season of 20-plus games. The difference between the teams that hoist the conference trophy in March and those who are eliminated early in the conference tournament is how they respond to those rough patches throughout the season.
UMHB will certainly get an opportunity to rebound next week as two ASC East Division opponents arrive in Belton, with a contest against LeTourneau (6-2 in conference) set for Thursday and a duel with East Texas Baptist (10-0 in conference) scheduled for Saturday.