Above photo of Arieona Rosborough by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru. Rosborough had a team-high 17 points in the win.
BELTON, Texas- Any doubt about the UMHB women’s basketball team’s competitiveness entering Friday’s ASC opener was put to rest in the span of 40 minutes, as the Crusaders defeated Ozarks 72-42, behind 54 points from the bench.
It was a tremendous performance for the Cru, who went 2-2 in the month of November, and had not earned a double-digit victory yet this season.
“Each game, we’re going to get better and better,” UMHB head coach Mark Morefield said postgame. “That’s just part of growing, especially with as young of a team as we are. For us, each game we get under our belt, we’re only going to get better. We’re not taking steps backwards.”
Leading the charge was freshman guard Arieona Rosborough, who seemed to score every way possible on her way to finishing with a team-high 17 points in 20 minutes off the bench. The Mansfield, Texas native shot 7-of-13 from the field, coming into the game at the 6:35 mark of the first quarter. She connected on her first attempt of the contest just 39 seconds after subbing in, as her jumper in the paint put the Cru back in the lead, 6-5. Better yet, the 5’10 guard was fouled on the shot, and converted the ensuing free throw to widen the margin to two points. That scoring play sparked a critical 13-2 run from the Crusaders, with Rosborough accounting for seven of those points, as UMHB raced away with the lead.
“She continues to get better every time she’s out,” Moreifeld said of Rsoborough postgame. “Arieona is a student of the game. She works on her craft. That’s what makes those certain players special. It’s just a continuous growth pattern with her.”
The opening quarter concluded with a scoreless final minute, and Morefield’s team holding an 18-9 advantage, but the shots began to fall at a rapid rate midway through the second, after Ozarks cut the deficit to a mere four points. A three-pointer from Alexia Martin and consecutive jumpers from Rosborough once again gave the Cru a double-digit lead, this time by 11 points, and by halftime, that margin had doubled, with UMHB up 36-14.
More so than the exceptional offensive play in the second period of play, Morefield keyed in on the defensive intensity. After being held to just five points in the first quarter of a loss to Colorado College exactly a week prior, UMHB returned the favor, limiting the Eagles of Ozarks to just five points over the next 10 minutes. In fact, for the final eight minutes of the second, Ozarks failed to convert on any of its 11 attempts, while the Cru mounted an 18-0 run.
“What I like about [our defense], is we really addressed some issues defensively in film on Wednesday,” Morefield noted. “We implemented some things in practice to help us. You could see that tonight. You could see the buy in.”
The Cru limited Ozarks to shooting 28 percent from the field and just 23 percent from three-point range in the 30-point victory, outscoring Ozarks 36-28 in the second half. While there were stretches of struggle shooting the ball, UMHB played tight defense for the game’s entirety. That led to 24 Eagle turnovers, and the Crusaders turned those turnovers into 27 points.
“We’re talented, and we have a good basketball foundation, you just have to get game reps to get where you want to go,” Morefield added.
19 different players saw at least two minutes of action on Friday night and 14 of them contributed in the scoring. And yet, there never seemed to be a drop in momentum, chemistry, or any of the other intangibles that guided the Crusaders to the conference-opening win.
UMHB resumes conference play next Thursday in Abilene, taking on McMurry in a 5:30 p.m. CT contest.