Editor’s Note: Above image provided by the UMHB Athletics Department and is from a prior game
BELTON, Texas- A slow start offensively gave way to a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback for the UMHB women’s basketball team on Thursday night, as the Cru managed to defeat Sul Ross State 69-63 in Belton.
Entering the matchup, the Lobos of Sul Ross State were second in the West Division standings, with a 6-4 record in ASC play. UMHB’s win caused a bit of movement in the standings as Sul Ross fell back to third in the West, and the Cru moved to 7-6 in ASC play. UMHB remains fourth in the division, though the Crusaders are now just seven percentage points back from Sul Ross.
The contest opened up with neither side able to put the ball in the basket, as the Cru held a slim 2-1 lead after the first five minutes of the opening quarter. The offense would improve as the quarter continued, though the second quarter began with UMHB leading 9-5 after two free throws from guard Bethany McLeod with 2:01 left in the first.
The second period of play saw the reverse take place, as the two opponents combined for 36 points, with Sul Ross outscoring UMHB 21-15, as the Lobos held a narrow 26-24 advantage at the half. The visitors from Alpine finished the second quarter on an 11-4 run after trailing 20-15 at the five minute mark.
Coming out of halftime, both sides countered back and forth, as the Cru used a Taylor Kollmorgen jumper to tie the contest at 26 with 8:35 in third before Kollmorgen knocked down another midrange shot on the following possession to put UMHB in front, 28-26. Sul Ross kept in step, with Keona Loftis swishing a three to put the Lobos back in front 29-28 just 15 seconds after Kollmorgen’s shot gave the Cru the lead. The margin never widened to more than two in the third, and as the two opponents concluded the quarter knotted at 41, it seemed everyone in the arena knew a must-see fourth quarter was on the way.
There are times when it seems that things have to get worse before they can get better, and the fourth quarter was an example of that. UMHB kept the score tight, though Sul Ross did not allow the Cru to take the lead for the first 8:55 of the quarter, reaching its largest lead, 58-55, with 2:14 to go in the game. That is when UMHB’s offense truly kicked into gear, as the shots began falling consistently, and the Crusaders mounted a 12-4 run to close out the ballgame.
Every shot had special importance in the comeback, and though the deficit was never that large, it seemed at times early in the final quarter that the Cru could not overcome the hump and regain the lead. One particular set of plays in the final two minutes were the highlights of the late scoring run and come-from-behind victory, as McLeod drove to the lane and got a layup to go with 1:35 remaining, tying the score at 59. Sul Ross would turn the ball over on the ensuing possession, leaving the door wide open for UMHB to take its first lead since the third quarter. The Cru capitalized on the opportunity with guard Alexia Martin knocking down a jumper in the paint to give UMHB a 61-59 advantage with 1:05 to play. Though the Lobos tried hard to keep the game close in the final seconds, all they could do was send the Crusaders to the line four times, and UMHB answered by going eight-for-eight from the charity stripe during the final minute of play.
The ability to connect from the line was critical late in the contest, and UMHB demonstrated that throughout the victory, shooting 91 percent on 23 free throws. Also a positive for the Crusaders was the fact that their shooting percentage increased as the game progressed, as they shot a mere 18 percent in the first quarter, 31 percent in the second, 33 percent in the third and concluding the win by making 57 percent of their shots in the fourth.
Leading that offensive charge late was senior guard Brooke Elliott, who finished with a stat line of 10 points and five rebounds. Also scoring in double figures was forward Hannah Eggleston, who scored 10 points to add to eight rebounds. Freshman forward Ashley Faux scored in double figures for just the second time this season, leading the Cru with 12 points.
The regular season concludes on Saturday at 1 p.m. when Howard Payne arrives in Belton.