Above photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
BELTON, Texas- With Christmas just five days away, the UMHB women’s basketball team added one more victory to its winning streak, defeating Schreiner 88-71 on Monday night.
UMHB now has won seven straight, boasting a record of 8-2 on the year. It marked the Crusaders’ final non-conference test of the year, and the last before facing ASC foe Concordia (TX) on Jan. 3 in Belton.
The Cru earned the win, but head coach Mark Morefield, having seen the excellent fourth-quarter play of his team over the last two weeks, wished he had seen more over the final 10 minutes from his squad.
“I felt like, mentally, we weren’t ready to play,” Morefield noted. “The preparation was there, but you’re facing Christmas break. I thought the second and the third quarters were fine, but the fourth quarter was not good enough.”
The second quarter was the point at which the tide turned for UMHB, who had trailed for much of the first quarter, but tied it with 8.3 seconds remaining when Ashley Faux completed a three-point play, making a layup as she was fouled, as well as the ensuing free throw.
The score did not remain knotted at 17 apiece for long, however, as Kaitlyn Kollmorgen scored on each of the Crusaders’ first three possessions of the second quarter. The Houston native’s play ignited a 9-0 UMHB run, as the Cru worked the ball around the perimeter against the Schreiner zone defense.
Schreiner was held to just five points in the period, as UMHB tallied 22, en route to a 40-22 halftime advantage. Guard Alexia Martin added six points in the quarter, and came off the bench to lead the Cru with 16. Her second shot of the day, a midrange jumper with 4:17 in the quarter, handed UMHB its first double-digit lead of the evening, making the score 32-21.
“She’s really embraced her role coming off the bench and being that sixth man,” Morefield said of Martin. “She knows she’s the leader she needs to be, and a calming presence. She gives us a great spark off the bench.”
Holding a sizable lead coming out of halftime, the Crusaders maintained their poise, outscoring the Mountaineers 22-16 in the third quarter. Schreiner opened the second half with three points of its own, but UMHB countered on an Aja Holmes jumper 2:44 into the quarter. Earning a number of open shots in transition, UMHB converted on 43.8 percent of its attempts from the field and tallied 10 points in the paint, with a 62-38 advantage as the fourth quarter began.
But Schreiner tallied 33 points over the final 10 minutes, outscoring UMHB in a quarter for the only time in the contest, and drove to the lane at will.
“The biggest thing is, I don’t like how we finished,” Morefield remarked. “I really feel like we quit playing. We didn’t stay mentally dialed in to what we needed to do.”
The number of foul calls were a major factor in the contest for both teams, though only one player, Schreiner’s Elisa Peralta fouled out, early in the fourth quarter. But a combined 74 free throws were shot, and as is often the case in games of that nature, the team that emerged victorious was also the one who performed better at the line. UMHB connected on 71 percent of its attempts, while the visiting Mountaineers converted at a rate of 67 percent. In fact, the Cru’s Arieona Rosborough failed to make any of her five field goal attempts, but did tally eight points, all of which came at the free-throw line.
“There were obviously way too many fouls,” Morefield said. “It’s a little disheartening. The game has to have a flow to it. I feel like, in the last three games, there’s been a lot of fouls called.”
A part of the fourth quarter struggles and the high frequency of fouls was due to the number of players who saw action late for the Cru. 15 different players logged at least a minute on the court, as the bench contributed with 51 points.
“You want a bench that can produce and do things,” Morefield said. “Those girls continue to be better every game.”
One contributor off the bench who made the most of her eight minutes was freshman post McKenzie Cano. In the third game of her collegiate career, the Mason, Texas native scored nine points and logged three rebounds, as the UMHB bench rose to its feet each time one of her four shots fell through the net.
“McKenzie Cano really seized an opportunity,” Morefield said. “She played very sound and when it’s over, she is somebody now who has earned some time.”
In the final non-conference test of the year, Morefield and his staff used a number of different lineups, some of which, according to the head coach, worked, and some that did not. But with the heart of ASC play around the corner, finding the right chemistry on the floor is vital.
“I think it was, more than anything, experimental to give some people some opportunities to see what we had,” Morefield said, “so we know coming back in, what we have to do.”
In addition to Martin’s team-high 16 points, Kollmorgen added 12 points along with a team-high seven rebounds and Faux contributed with 11 points, all of which came in the first half.
UMHB tips off against Concordia (TX) at 5:30 p.m. CT on Jan. 3. The Cru has won the last seven meetings with the Tornadoes.