Above photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
BROWNWOOD- The win streak continued for the No. 14 UMHB women’s basketball team on Thursday night, as the Crusaders won their 18th straight game in an 80-62 victory on Howard Payne’s home court, securing the regular season conference title in the process
The Cru, ranked No. 14 in the nation, had little trouble putting together a superb effort on the defensive end, which led to quality offense, as 13 different players contributed in the scoring.
Both teams found their offensive rhythms early in the first quarter, as the Yellow Jackets and Cru traded scores early on. HPU’s Lily Janek connected on a three-pointer 32 seconds into the game, before UMHB’s Ashley Faux tied the score with a three of her own. Faux, who finished with a team-high 20 points, added a layup on the next possession for a 5-3 lead, before an 8-2 run earned HPU the advantage.
“I thought in the first half we did a lot of uncharacteristic things, and made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes,” UMHB head coach Mark Morefield said. “I felt like we were rushing the offense instead of being patient.”
The Cru became more patient on both ends of the floor as a 12-3 second quarter run erased HPU’s three-point lead at the end of the first. By halftime, the visitors from Belton led 36-29, a margin smaller than anticipated, after a strong opening quarter from HPU.
The lead was widened to double digits on a pair of free throws from Faux 55 seconds into the second half, as the Crusaders converted on 47 percent of their shots in the third quarter.
Consecutive threes from senior forward Kasey Jo Hinton made it a 20-point advantage at halfway point of the third, accounting for all six of the senior forward’s points, which marked a season-high.
Though HPU was sent to the free throw line on three occasions in the fourth, making all six attempts, the Cru maintained its double-digit lead. With five seconds remaining, transfer guard Lauren Baker was fouled, and made both free throw attempts, helping UMHB reach the 80-point mark for the sixth time this season. In the process, she scored the first points of her UMHB career.
Post Kaitlyn Kollmorgen also finished in double figures in scoring, with a 10-point, four-rebound performance, and forward Olivia Champion tallied a career-high four blocks in addition to five points.
With UMHB moving to 16-0 in ASC play, here’s a closer look at the win:
What Went Well
Creating opportunities off turnovers: UMHB was largely successful when it came to scoring in transition, especially off of its 15 steals in the contest. The Cru tallied 32 points as the result of its 23 forced turnovers, such as Alexia Martin’s steal off an HPU inbounds pass early in the fourth. Martin raced up the floor, and one pass later, Bethany McLeod drained a jumper from the corner, extending the lead to 67-48. That on-court awareness, according to Morefield, was critical in its significant lead.
Morefield: “I thought early on in the season, we were gambling and trying to use our bodies to get into passing lane, instead of using our hands to get out there and shoot those passing lanes. The last three games we’ve really grasped that. We’ve tried to let our defense create easier opportunities on the offensive end.”
Faux sets four career-highs: In addition to her 20 points, the 6’0 forward was everywhere on the floor, with a career-best eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a block. Her presence was key in setting the pace and creating good offense, as the Frisco native posted an efficiency (calculated by the addition and subtraction of the player’s individual stats) of 23.0, the highest on the team. She scored 16 points in the first half, before HPU made some defensive adjustments, slowing her down in the second half. Faux had four points in the span of 38 seconds with a minute left in the first half, giving UMHB a 36-26 lead.
Morefield: “From an offensive standpoint, shooting the ball, I thought she was more fluid. I felt like the past couple games, she had been rushing her shot. That was the biggest thing for her shooting. Rebounding-wise, we’ve been telling her to play tall. She did a great job of being a threat on the glass, offensively and defensively. Then she can push the ball [upcourt] and that helps us be better in our transition game.”
UMHB goes to Sul Ross State on Saturday, playing in a tough environment in Alpine. The Lobos are 13-9, 9-8 in ASC play, and picked up a win over then-No. 16 ETBU a week ago at home. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. CT.
Morefield: “They’re a very scrappy team and can cause some matchup problems. But I think what we have to do is stick to doing what we’ve done defensively that has gotten us here. We’ll use our depth and continue to wear teams out. But they’ll be ready, and they’re playing with some great confidence right now. We’ll have to be ready to play.”