Above photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
BELTON, Texas- The UMHB women’s basketball team was shorthanded on Monday night, but that is where the unique depth of the Crusaders comes into play.
With leading rebounder Kaitlyn Kollmorgen and veteran guard Olivia Champion unavailable, head coach Mark Morefield turned to a number of talented, yet less-experienced players, as the team pulled out a 66-59 victory over Concordia (TX).
“We had to pivot quickly, and made some adjustments yesterday,” Morefield said postgame. “We needed everybody in, especially with adjusting to a different rotation. I’m proud of the girls for doing that.”
The victory marked UMHB’s eighth straight win, and kept the Crusaders in first place in the ASC standings, with a 6-0 record.
16 seconds into the game, Ashley Faux drained a three-pointer, the first of 14 points on the night for the sophomore forward, who led the Cru in scoring. Though Concordia countered with a 5-0 scoring run of its own to take the lead, UMHB responded quickly in the form of a 10-2 spurt that included four points from Catherine Kaiser.
“We had to get a run going,” Morefield said. “We allowed two threes early on that were scouting report errors. We needed to establish a run of our own to create separation, especially not being at full strength.”
If there was one Crusader who especially stepped up, it was Kaiser, a transfer from St. Edward’s. The sophomore post player not only had an impact on UMHB retaking the advantage in the first quarter, but gave the team a steady presence in the paint throughout the next three quarters. She played a season-high 18 minutes, scored six points, pulled down five rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked three shots.
“This was the Catherine I saw in high school,” Morefield, who recruited Kaiser out of Tivy High School, said of her performance. “The program she came from, they used her differently, but I needed the Catherine that played in high school. And that’s what she did.
“I was proud of her, because hopefully she can use this to spur her on and help turn that corner in a confidence setting.”
After the first quarter, the Cru led 23-13, but that 10-point advantage was cut to just two by the 4:27 mark of the second period, as Concordia’s Falyn Taylor connected on a three-pointer. Interestingly, that was Concordia’s lone field goal of the quarter, as the team shot 21 percent from the field, but a nine-of-16 mark at the free throw line aided in the Tornadoes’ comeback.
“What we challenged [our team] with, was, ‘Would you rather have [Concordia] shoot from somewhere where they’re shooting 56% from or 21%?,” Morefield said. “It’s pretty easy.”
After hearing Morefield’s message, the Cru played with a similar aggressiveness, but kept Concordia’s trips to the line at a minimum, as the visitors from Austin shot, and made, just four free-throw attempts over the next 10 minutes. That adjustment, combined with a 6-0 run early in the third quarter, earned UMHB a 18-point, 45-27 lead by the five-minute mark of the quarter. Consecutive jumpers from Arieona Rosborough, who finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds, midway through the quarter were critical in UMHB’s significant lead, which was only added to. The closest Concordia got in the second half was a margin of seven points, and a Brooklynne Sandel layup with 3:06 to play again made it an 18-point contest.
The success of the Crusaders on this particular night was not solely due to the performances of one or two players, but rather the cohesiveness of the team. Rosborough and Faux led the way, but the method in which UMHB moved the ball impressed Morefield, as did the team’s 20 assists. For the fourth straight game, the Cru recorded 20 or more assists, a sign that the ball movement of the offense continues to bring success.
“I love the fact that we’re playing as one right now,” Morefield noted. “We continue to share the ball, knowing that the ‘We’ is going to win over the ‘Me.’”
For UMHB, who remains unranked, but received votes in Monday’s D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll, the week is far from over. In fact, it is only the beginning. Two more contests, set for Thursday and Saturday, remain on tap for the ASC’s last remaining undefeated team in conference play.
“The girls have bought into the message that we want to go 1-0 every day,” Morefield said. “Part of the mentality of going 1-0, is focusing on what’s next. Not the two things that are next. What’s the one key thing that’s next? We keep that mindset.”
Riley Zayas is the managing editor of True To The Cru. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.