Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru
RICHARDSON- The last time UMHB and UT-Dallas battled, it took the Cru overcoming a seven-point deficit and an overtime period to decide the victor.
But on Sunday afternoon, in what UTD head coach Polly Thomason called “a matchup of two good game plans defensively”, UMHB led for 66 percent of the game, and perhaps more importantly, held the lead as the final buzzer sounded. No buzzer-beating shots, or late scoring runs necessary. UMHB earned the 55-46 victory, its 16th straight, and moved to 14-0 in ASC play.
“You have to constantly defend,” UMHB head coach Mark Morefield said postgame. “I’m so proud of the girls because they stayed locked in defensively. It wasn’t our best offensive night, but that’s going to happen. Defense is an effort deal, and we won that ballgame because of our defense. That’s what carried us over the top tonight.”
Both teams struggled to get going offensively in the game’s early minutes, as a pair of Ashley Faux free throws were UMHB’s only points for the first three minutes of the game. At the 6:41 mark, UTD led 4-2, with defense taking center stage.
The Cru led 25-21 at the half, with guard Arieona Rosborough tallying nine of those points, seven of which came in the second quarter. UTD made a run and reclaimed the lead in the third, taking a four-point advantage Michaela Walker’s layup with 4:15 left. But guard Bethany McLeod responded with four straight points, tying the score, and the Crusaders entered the fourth quarter with a slim 40-39 lead.
Though the Comets cut the lead to two points three times in the fourth, UMHB pulled away each time. After Anna Jefferson-Polk’s layup with 3:04 remaining, the Crusaders pulled away for good, mounting a 6-0 run for a 52-44 advantage, which sealed the team’s second victory of the season over UTD.
With UMHB now tying the program record for most consecutive wins, here’s a closer look at Sunday’s victory:
What Went Well
Rosborough comes through in the clutch: The freshman guard was especially poised throughout the course of the contest, coming up with rebounds, free throws or field goals when it mattered most. With 5.7 seconds in the opening quarter, she was fouled, and made both free throws, giving UMHB a 14-12 lead, its first of the contest since the 8:06 mark. Less than a minute into the second period, it was Rosborough again, this time completing a three-point play as she was fouled on a made layup and connected on the ensuing free throw. When the clock ticked down to the 2:34 mark of the fourth, she again found herself at the line, and made it a two-possession lead, 48-44, on consecutive free throws. The lead only grew until the final buzzer. Rosborough finished with a team-high 24 points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Morefield: “She continues to improve in her shooting and her ability to finish at the rim. She is raising her level at both ends of the floor. That’s part of the growth of a young basketball player. She’s seeing things in real-time. Once you start seeing things in real-time, your game really flourishes.”
Cru broke UTD’s full-court pressure: As the top defensive team in the league, UTD did all it could to contain the Cru, including implementing full-court pressure early in the opening quarter. But UMHB was prepared, and seldom turned the ball over against the pressing defense, instead finding the right outlet passes to get the ball past halfcourt. It also contributed to UMHB’s 13 fast-break points.
Morefield: “We knew [the press] was coming, and that they were going to do it, just based on what they did at our place. It’s also becoming a pattern, where opponents are either going to press us or zone us. Because they want to slow us down in the press, and get us to play at a faster pace than usual. And they use the zone to take away dribble penetration and force us to shoot jump shots.”
Forced turnovers, steals contributed to UMHB’s momentum, and the lead: From the onset, UMHB’s defensive presence was made known. The Crusaders recorded five turnovers and three steals in the first quarter, and finished with 21 takeaways, 13 of which came on steals. During one stretch midway through the second quarter, UTD turned the ball over four times in the span of 2:20, as the Cru mounted a 5-2 run and 19-14 lead.
Morefield: “We had to use our length. That was something we’d be talking about, is, we were playing a lot with our hands down. So we had to use our hands more, not to swipe and foul, but to take passing lanes away. Tonight that translated into 13 steals and was really able to generate our defense.”
In less than 24 hours, UMHB will return to the court, facing LeTourneau in another road contest, set for 4 p.m. CT in Longview. The Yellowjackets are 10-4 overall, 7-4 in ASC action, after Sunday’s 79-69 win over Concordia (TX).