Above photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
BROWNWOOD- Inside the spacious Brownwood Coliseum Thursday night, the UMHB men’s basketball team emerged with a 92-80 victory.
It was not a pretty victory by any means-a look at the box score will tell you that- but against a Howard Payne team that UMHB head coach Clif Carroll noted plays at a level far above its record, coming away with its 13th conference win was the bottom line.
“We really didn’t play very well, but we knew this was going to be a challenge,” Carroll said postgame. “We had a quick turnaround from [playing Monday], had to take Tuesday off practice, then got [to Brownwood] last night so we could practice at Howard Payne. Howard Payne is a better team than what they’re being given credit for.”
HPU took a 4-0 lead within the game’s first minute, before five straight layups from UMHB gave the Crusaders a 10-6 lead. A 10-0 scoring run with under 10 minutes left in the opening half saw the visitors from Belton take a 13-point advantage as Ty Prince converted on four free throws in that span.
Two free throws from guard Josiah Johnson with just one second left in the first half saw UMHB take a 45-28 lead into the break.
After shooting zero-of-eight from three-point range in the first half, the Cru connected on six of its 11 attempts from beyond the arc in the second half, three of which came from Johnson. By the seven minute mark, UMHB led 78-54, which marked its largest lead of the contest. The Cru closed out the victory with a solid defensive effort, and outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 49-39.
Johnson tallied 26 points and seven rebounds, while Carson Hammond dished out five assists.
With UMHB now on a six-game win streak, at 13-2 in ASC play, here’s a closer look at the win:
What Went Well
Prince finds a way to score from all areas of the floor– Prince turned out a season-high 28 points, leading the offense on its way to victory. The senior added 13 rebounds in a double-double effort, also tallying two assists. The 6’5 forward did well as the team’s primary ballhandler at several points throughout the contest, but his six turnovers was an area Carroll and his staff hope to clean up prior to Saturday’s game.
Carroll: “We can’t have that many turnovers from a guy that is going to touch the ball as much as Ty does. But he really attacked the rim well. He’s such a tough person to guard because of his skill set and size. It was nice to see him let loose and go score today.”
Getting scores in the paint highlighted performance- UMHB tallied 46 points in the paint, as the Crusaders’ scoring ability from short-range proved to be a viable weapon against a HPU lineup stacked with guards. With 12:51 in the first half, Johnson scored on a jumper near the free-throw line for a 14-13 UMHB lead. From that point on, the Cru remained in front, leading for nearly 34 of the game’s 40 minutes.
Carroll: “We have multi-talented guys who can do a lot of different things. We try to take advantage of our wings with size. I thought DJ [Kane] did a nice job getting to the paint a few times. Luke [Feely] found some points in the second half. I think we did a good job there.”
UMHB closes out its regular season road schedule at Sul Ross State on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT. A phenomenal second-half team that is now sixth in the ASC standings, the Lobos are 9-13, 6-11 in ASC play. Prior to coming to UMHB, Carroll was the head coach at SRSU, and many of the players he recruited to Alpine are still on the roster.
Carroll: “They’re going to be tough. They love playing against me. It’s senior night, and they’re going to honor three players. I recruited all three of them. It’ll be cool to be a part of that ceremony. They’re playing well. We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did tonight.”