Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru
LONGVIEW- The shots were not falling for either team on Monday night.
So the defense took center stage, and the UMHB women’s basketball team proved it can win in more ways than one, holding LeTourneau to just five fourth-quarter points for a 57-39 road victory.
It marked UMHB’s 17th straight victory and moved the Cru to 15-0 in ASC play. This is the longest win streak in program history.
“The defense again stepped up,” UMHB head coach Mark Morefield said postgame. “That’s really what got us that separation.”
While the Crusaders won by 18, they trailed midway through the third quarter, as LeTourneau aimed at an upset. The Yellowjackets led 28-27 nearly three minutes into the third, and with 5:48 left in the period, cut the deficit to 32-30 on a Malacia Guy layup.
That is when the UMHB offense finally found traction, going on a 13-4 scoring run to close out the quarter. The intensity on the defensive end translated into successful offense in the fourth, as the Cru outscored LeTourneau 12-5 in the final quarter. The first four minutes of that period closely resembled the early minutes of the third, as UMHB went cold shooting, but an Ashley Faux layup extended the lead back to 10, which was followed by a wide-open jumper from Kaitlyn Kollmorgen, and then another from Catherine Kaiser coming out of a LeTourneau timeout.
Kaiser’s lone points of the day made the score 53-37 with 3:14 remaining, as UMHB pulled away en route to victory. LeTourneau converted on just one-of-16 shooting attempts in the quarter: Guy’s layup with 7:34 remaining.
Arieona Rosborough and Kollmorgen each contributed with 11 points on the offensive end, and Olivia Champion added a season-high 10 points. Kollmorgen recorded a double-double, with 15 rebounds to go along with her scoring. She also tallied two blocks, and Bethany McLeod dished out a team-best three assists.
Here’s a closer look at Monday’s win:
What went well
Whitfield held to 10 points: Facing the conference’s leading scorer, Keauna Whitfield, UMHB’s defense was top-notch, holding the guard to just 10 points, nine below her season average. She was held to a total of four free throws in the first two quarters, and made just three field goals in the second half, finishing with a 3-of-12 shooting mark. With its top scorer struggling against the Crusader defense, which had incredible help-side coverage, LeTourneau was unable to keep in-step late in the second half.
Morefield: “Our approach was we wanted to limit her touches. And when she did touch it, we wanted to make sure we were contesting every shot. Those were the two main points of emphasis we focused on between last night watching the film and this morning at the walkthrough. I thought those were things that were beneficial.”
Help-side defense at its best: Speaking of the defense, it was not just Whitfield who had trouble putting the ball in the basket. All six of LeTourneau’s players who saw action were met with UMHB’s intense, team-based defense. Though playing man-to-man coverage, the Cru had exceptional help-side defense. Each time LETU drove into the lane for a mid-range shot or layup, multiple UMHB defenders were quick to the ball. That method of defense held the Yellowjackets to just 11 field goals for the game’s entirety, as they shot 19 percent and converted on just two-of-13 three-point tries.
Morefield: “We wanted to load up the paint, and that’s what help-side defense is. We gave up a couple easy layups in the first half that we shouldn’t have, so we came back at halftime, and said, ‘We’ve got to load the paint. This is what our defense centers around.’ And in the second half, we were really locked in.”
Dominance on the glass: The Cru outrebounded its opponent by 29, 61-32, as Kollmorgen tallied a season-high 15 boards. Faux and Rosborough each added eight rebounds, and in turn, LETU had just five second-chance points. That played a pivotal role throughout the fourth quarter, especially on a night where neither team’s shots were falling at a consistent rate. UMHB pulled down 19 offensive rebounds to the Yellowjackets’ seven, five of which were brought down by Kollmorgen. And all three of Champion’s rebounds came on the offensive end. Monday’s contest marked a significant improvement from the rebounding performance in the last meeting between LETU and UMHB, in which the Yellowjackets tallied 20 offensive rebounds.
Morefield: “They really stayed in the game at our place by free throws and offensive rebounds. So we really harped on, ‘They have to be one [shot] and done. We can’t let them get 20 offensive rebounds again.’
UMHB has two days off before returning to the court, playing at Howard Payne on Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. CT. The Yellow Jackets are 4-17 on the year and 2-14 in ASC play. The Cru won the first meeting on Jan. 8 in Belton, 77-53.