BELTON, Texas- A game that was close in the first half saw the UMHB men’s basketball team run away with it in the second, as the Cru moved to a perfect 12-0 in conference play, taking down Sul Ross State, 91-75, for the second time this season.
The Lobos of Sul Ross State entered the contest third in the ASC West Division standings, riding a two-game win streak. With Sul Ross winning a non-conference showdown in December and UMHB having won the second meeting between the two in early February, Thursday’s duel was the deciding factor in what turned out to be a three-game series over the course of the season. In addition to remaining undefeated in conference action, UMHB is also 15-3 overall, and needs a win over Howard Payne on Saturday to finish the ASC schedule without a blemish on its record.
The score was back and forth early, with Sul Ross putting the first points on the board on a long three-pointer from forward Julian Paredes. Paredes would score on a fast break 17 seconds later, making the score 5-0, but UMHB was not shaken, as the Crusaders went on a 7-0 run of their own, ignited by a three-pointer from forward Ty Prince.
Both teams shot the ball with confidence in the first half, as the Lobos connected on an acceptable 37 percent of their shots, while the Crusaders made 46 percent of their attempts from the field. UMHB managed to widen its lead slowly but surely, leading by double digits for the first time at the 6:03 mark on a three from Prince to make the score 34-23. At the half, the Cru led by just seven, 43-36.
Sul Ross temporarily cut the deficit to five on a jumper from guard Tristen Licon, though that did not hold off a 9-0 run that followed over the course of the next several minutes, highlighted by three three-pointers from Josiah Johnson, Gibson Hearne and Aedan Welch. Those buckets from behind the arc extended the lead to 15 for the Cru, 53-38, and that advantage would only grow as the second half played out. Though UMHB head coach Clif Carroll emptied nearly his entire bench late in the second half, the Cru kept up its relentless offensive attack, and there was hardly any change in the level of play. UMHB’s largest lead was 29 points with the score 82-53 and 8:10 to play in the game following a fast-break layup from Hammond.
The box score reflected UMHB’s second-half dominance. The Cru moved the ball around the perimeter with ease, working the ball into the post and back out behind the arc, creating plenty of good looks from three-point range, as they had 24 assists in comparison to Sul Ross’ 15. UMHB was also strong on the boards, winning the rebounding battle 50-36.
Josiah Johnson followed up a 53-point outing this past Saturday by leading the team in scoring with 25 points against the Lobos. His 10 rebounds resulted in his sixth double-double of the season, and the sophomore has now put 20-plus points on the board in all but one game of this 2020-21 campaign. Prince also registered a double-double with a 19-point, 14-rebound performance.
The Cru will take on Howard Payne in the regular season finale on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT in Belton.