Above photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
BELTON- There are no guaranteed games left on the schedule. It is “win or go home” from here on out, as the ASC Tournament begins in Belton on Thursday, and runs through Saturday night.
And in a league where no team except the top seed appears to hold a sizable chance of an at-large NCAA tournament bid in the case it does not win, every game matters. One loss will likely mean the end of the season. So there is plenty to play for at the Mayborn Center later this week.
“This league is deep and balanced,” UMHB head coach Clif Carroll said recently. “There are going to be some great basketball games.”
All tournament information from the ASC regarding game times and livestream links can be found here: ASC Championship Central
No. 1 Seed: UMHB (22-2, 17-2 ASC)
The top-seeded Crusaders rolled through the regular season, losing just twice, both in conference play, on the road at Hardin-Simmons and ETBU. A non-conference victory against Northwest Conference champ Pacific Lutheran means UMHB has a 3-0 record against regionally-ranked opponents this season, as the Cru claimed the conference’s regular season title. The team is aiming at its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, the last of which came in 2013. Led by Josiah Johnson, third in the country in points per game (25.6), the offense is hard for opposing defenses to slow.
Most impressive win: 79-77 at LeTourneau, Feb. 7
Quarterfinal Matchup: vs Concordia, Thursday 7:30 p.m.
No. 2 Seed: LeTourneau (20-4, 15-4 ASC)
The Yellowjackets rely heavily on their three-point shooting, which guides the offense. LETU has shot 38.4 from three-point range this season, the top mark in the league, and features the ASC’s top long-range scorer in junior guard Andrew Eberhardt (20.0 PPG). Deonte Jackson with 19.1 points per game, forming one of the conference’s top scoring duos. In non-conference play, LETU might have gone the furthest of any ASC program, winning two games in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, defeating Bethany Lutheran College and Crown College.
Most impressive win: 85-77 at No. 22 Hardin-Simmons, Jan. 6
Quarterfinal Matchup: vs Sul Ross State, Thursday 2:30 p.m.
No. 3 Seed: Hardin-Simmons (16-7, 12-6 ASC)
Perhaps the league’s most stringent defense, the Cowboys hold opponents to an average of just 73.3 points per game, defend the perimeter well. The winners of their last two contests, HSU is experienced and similar to UMHB, has talented depth coming off the bench. Senior forward Steven Quinn enters the tournament at 17.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Though not a win, HSU fell to Trinity, the SCAC regular season champion, by just three points on Nov. 12 in non-conference play. The Cowboys were also the only ASC team to go undefeated through the first month of conference play.
Most impressive win: 80-77 vs UMHB, Dec. 11
Quarterfinal Matchup: vs McMurry, Thursday 12 p.m.
No. 4 Seed: UT-Dallas (15-8, 11-7 ASC)
Discipline and defense are the centerpieces of longtime head coach Terry Butterfield’s squad. Holding the opposition to 73.0 points per game, second-best in the ASC, the Comets have allowed 90-plus points once this season. UTD enters the tournament having won three of its last five, and plays its best basketball when score is kept low and the opponent is kept outside of the paint, which results in few short-range, high-percentage shots. Kameron Pruitt averages 16.0 PPG for the Comets.
Most Impressive win: 61-60 vs Hardin-Simmons, Feb. 10
Quarterfinal matchup: vs ETBU, Thursday 5:00 p.m.
No. 5 Seed: ETBU (14-11, 12-8 ASC)
The Tigers play at a quick pace and drive to the lane with ease, creating plenty of scoring chances at the rim. With size and athleticism, ETBU is an exceptional rebounding team, averaging a league-best 4.4 more rebounds per game than its opponent. The team got off to a rough start in its ASC schedule, dropping three straight in December, before finding a rhythm and establishing itself as a strong middle-of-the-pack contender. 6’7 forward Darry Moore is a challenge for opposing defenses, posting 14.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
Most impressive win: 81-72 vs UMHB, Jan. 13
Quarterfinal matchup: UT-Dallas, Thursday 5:00 p.m.
No. 6 Seed: McMurry (9-14, 7-11 ASC)
Led by the guard play of Remy Minor and CJ LeBlanc, the Warhawks are quick on both ends of the floor. With 9.9 steals per game, McMurry plays quality perimeter defense and Minor and LeBlanc each average over 14 points per game. Despite a 7-11 record, McMurry has pushed both Hardin-Simmons and LeTourneau into overtime this season, a sign the Warhawks can and will compete with the league’s best.
Most impressive win: 83-69 at UT-Dallas, Feb. 12
Quarterfinal matchup: Hardin-Simmons, Thursday, 12:00 p.m.
No. 7 Seed: Sul Ross State (10-15, 7-13 ASC)
The Lobos are perhaps the league’s best second-half team. Twice they have gone into halftime trailing by a significant margin, only to erase the deficit and win in the final 20 minutes. In an overtime win over Concordia on Feb. 10, the Lobos were down by 21 with under 14 minutes left, before coming back for a 97-91 home victory. Julian Paredes is the player to watch for SRSU; he enters the tournament averaging 15.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Most impressive win: 81-79 vs Hardin-Simmons, Jan. 15
Quarterfinal matchup: LeTourneau, Thursday, 2:30 p.m.
No. 8 Seed: Concordia (9-14, 6-13 ASC)
With its full-court press defense, head coach Stan Bonewitz’s team plays physical and tests its opponent’s depth. The highest-scoring team in the ASC, at 88.4 points per game, the Tornadoes also convert on 48 percent of their shots. Concordia was in contention atop the league standings, before losing 10 straight games between Jan. 15 and Feb. 17. Antoine Henderson is a force in the post for Concordia, shooting a league-best 62.4 percent from the field, with 11.7 points per game.
Most impressive win: 89-87 (OT) vs LeTourneau, Dec. 19
Quarterfinal matchup: vs UMHB, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Riley Zayas covers UMHB Athletics as the managing editor of True To The Cru. He can be emailed at email@example.com.