Above photo of Ashley Faux (left) by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru, Photo of Nathan Stolz (right) by Olivia Champion/@byoliviarayn
ABILENE, Texas- Coming off an 87-67 conference-opening win over Ozarks, the UMHB men’s basketball team finds itself ranked No. 9 in the nation by D3hoops.com entering the week, and matchup against McMurry and Hardin-Simmons on the road. The Cru is set to play both games in Abilene, facing McMurry (3-5 overall, 1-2 ASC), on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. followed by a 3 p.m. contest on Saturday at Hardin-Simmons (7-1 overall, 3-0 ASC), who received votes in Monday’s D3hoops.com Top 25 poll.
“It’s cool being in the Top 10 in the country,” UMHB head coach Clif Carroll said Wednesday. “It’s fun for the kids, it’s a good recruiting tool and it’s good publicity for the school. That stuff is great, but we can’t be consumed by it. We don’t play for rankings, we play for championships.”
UMHB’s ASC championship quest continues tomorrow, and though McMurry does not carry a winning record into the contest, the War Hawks have proven to be a competitive opponent throughout the early part of this season. Just last week, they took HSU to overtime, before falling 92-83, but came back the following day to defeat George Fox, 84-83, in non-conference play. McMurry also battled UMHB’s lone D-III non-conference opponent up to this point, losing to Southwestern 87-85 on Nov. 12. That contest was played just three days after UMHB defeated the Pirates 100-80 in the Cru’s season opener.
“We have to worry about what’s in front of us,” Carroll said. “We’re on a journey to win a national championship. That’s the pot of gold at the end of the yellow brick road. We just have to find our steps and make sure we’re clearing the hurdles in front of us. McMurry is up next, and we have to stay focused McMurry.”
Of the improvements he wants to see against the War Hawks, Carroll noted consistency and putting together two solid halves has been a point of emphasis. But most importantly, he is looking for physical, aggressive basketball from his Crusaders.
“Consistency has been a talk, playing up to our ability when we’re on the court at all times has been a talk,” Carroll said. “For me, this whole week, when I’m asked, ‘What do I have to do to go down there and win?’, [I say] ‘Just play hard.’ That’s the key this whole week. When we’re the hardest playing team in the game, it’s hard to beat us.”
UMHB women’s basketball set to face first ranked opponent of the year in No. 14 Hardin-Simmons
ABILENE, Texas- The UMHB women’s basketball team’s ASC championship run last season began in Abilene, with a 79-75 overtime win at Hardin-Simmons. It propelled the Cru to its second consecutive ASC title, and this weekend, UMHB is returning to Abilene for its first conference road games of the season.
Coming off a dominant 72-42 win over Ozarks in the ASC opener on Friday, head coach Mark Morefield’s team is preparing to take on McMurry (0-8, 0-3 ASC) tomorrow before battling No. 14 Hardin-Simmons (7-1, 2-1 ASC) Saturday afternoon.
“We want to respect and enjoy the past, but we’ve had that moment,” Morefield said of last season’s huge ASC Tournament win in Abilene. “Now we’re about,’This is another conference opponent tomorrow night in McMurry. What can we do to come up victorious?’ Then we prepare for Hardin-Simmons on Saturday. We’re never going to look ahead, we’re never going to look back. We’re going to look at the task at hand.”
That task at hand involves the “1-0” mentality that Morefield said he has been preaching since October. That is why facing the nation’s No. 14 team is not played up much, if at all. The expectations are high within the program for this season.
“Really what we talk about is going 1-0 each game,” Morefield said Wednesday. “Honestly, where our program is at, and what we have in our program, it would almost be a slap in the face to those players.If our program was in a different stage, we might take that angle to try to get them hyped up. But for a team that has played in four straight conference tournament championship games, and has won back-to-back conference championships, [playing up that HSU is No. 14] would be like a slap in the face. Because in their minds, they’re a top 10 team.”
Achieving victory in Abilene will start on defense, Morefield said, an area he was especially encouraged in against Ozarks. The Cru forced 24 turnovers and held the Eagles to shooting 28 percent from the field last week.
“We have to continue to take that step forward,” Morefield said. “Defensively, we played very well [against Ozarks]. It was probably one of our best games where we were disciplined [on that end of the floor].”
After tallying 54 bench points last Friday, Morefield is confident in the depth of his squad, especially as it prepares for its conference road opener on Thursday. Freshman guard Arieona Rosborough leads the team in points per game (9.6), sophomore post Kaitlyn Kollmorgen has a team-high 7.6 rebounds per contest, and sophomore guard Cheyanne Bonilla leads the Cru in assists, with 14.
Said Morefield: “We can change the look of what we have defensively and offensively depending on the personnel that’s out there.”
UMHB tips off against McMurry at Kimbrell Arena at 5:30 p.m. CT on Thursday. The men’s game will follow at 7:30 p.m. CT.
Riley Zayas is the managing editor of True To The Cru. He has worked as a sportswriter since 2016 and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.