BELTON, Texas- Perhaps it was a 12 day stretch without a game that lit the spark for the UMHB women’s basketball team, as the Cru snapped a four-game losing skid, defeating Concordia 74-42, on Thursday night.
The victory moves the Crusaders to 5-6 in ASC play, though they remain fourth in the West Division with a win percentage of .563, just behind Sul Ross State. The conference standings are extremely important, as only the top four teams from each division will make the ASC tournament, which begins March 10.
Prior to the contest, UMHB head coach Mark Morefield emphasized the idea of a “reset” to his team, and noting how important the final four games of this regular season are to the Cru’s ASC title hopes.
“The biggest thing we have been really hitting on is this is a reset,” said Morefield. “We can’t change what has already been done but we can control these last four games. Our focus has been on, ‘This is a new season, and we are 0-0.'”
Aiding in the Cru’s home court advantage was the fact that a large crowd, including several members of the UMHB band, turned out for the contest. With trumpets playing in the background, and fans on their feet, UMHB kept its foot on the pedal all the way through, keeping Concordia on its toes, and taking off-balance shots.
Olivia Champion put the team on her back early on, scoring five of UMHB’s first seven points as the Crusaders led 16-7 at the end of the first quarter. The second period saw the two opponents trade blows, as they each put 14 points on the board in that quarter, highlighted by terrific ball movement around the perimeter. Kaitlyn Kollmorgen and Hannah Eggleston teamed up on more than once occasion, with one getting the ball to the other in the post, as each had a team-best six points when halftime rolled around.
The third quarter began with UMHB leading 30-21, but that nine-point gap would widen quickly. The Crusaders came out of the locker room on fire, beginning the period with a 13-3 scoring run. The impact of the Kollmorgen sisters, Taylor and Kaitlyn, could not be overlooked, especially in the third, as Taylor scored six points in the first 3:30, and Kaitlyn pulled down two critical defensive rebounds to add to a steal and a jumper from midrange.
“Taylor and Kaitlyn were tremendous,” said Morefield. “Kaitlyn continues to grow in her game and Taylor really played to the level we know she can. They both had big impacts tonight and this is a game they can grow from.”
With a 52-37 lead at the end of the third quarter, the game seemed out of reach for the Tornadoes, but UMHB did not relax. The lack of shooting late in games was a large part of those four consecutive losses entering Thursday’s contest, but on this particular night, the opposite occurred. The Cru followed up a 22-point third quarter with 22 more in the fourth, shooting 56 percent from the field.
The hard-nosed defense exhibited by UMHB helped to generate that offense, as the Crusaders scored 28 points off turnovers. 20 of their points also came on fast breaks, as Cheyanne Bonilla scored four of those off back-to-back steals with two minutes left in the third.
Taylor Kollmorgen put forth perhaps her best performance of the season, scoring a team-high 13 points, pulling down six rebounds and shooting five-of-seven from the field. And perhaps most surprising was the fact that she did all of that in just 13 minutes of action. Kaitlyn Kollmorgen posted a career night, narrowly missing out on a double-double with career-highs in points (10) and rebounds (9). Bonilla’s performance was nothing short of spectacular, as she scored a career-best 11 points in just 12 minutes.
A rematch against the Tornadoes looms on Saturday in Austin at 1 p.m. CT. Important to note, however, is that sources have stated there are issues with Concordia’s facilities due to last week’s winter storm. Currently the game is still set to be played, but expect an official decision by tomorrow.