Above photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
MARSHALL, Texas- There are no games left on the regular season schedule. The postseason has arrived. And in a conference in which multiple teams are ranked in the Top 25 and the Region 10 Regional Rankings, there is plenty to play for over the next several days inside Ornelas Gym.
Played at the site of the tournament’s No. 2 seed, ETBU, top-seeded UMHB is seeking its third straight conference title.
Due to the fact that the conference was played with one large, 11-team division, rather than two smaller divisions, the ASC’s regular season champion, UMHB, was given the right to host. However, as the Cru men’s team also won the ASC, UMHB will host the men’s tournament in Belton, per the policy that if one school has the top men’s and women’s squads, it hosts the men’s tournament in even years and the women’s in odd years.
With seven games set to be played over the next three days that will decide the conference’s champion and representative in the NCAA Tournament, there is plenty at stake. Here’s what you need to know about all eight teams competing in Marshall:
To follow the tournament’s progress, head to the ASC’s Website.
No. 1 Seed: UMHB (21-3, 18-1 ASC)
The Cru plays a style of balanced basketball that relies on depth to wear opponents down. Regularly putting 13 or 14 players on the floor over the course of a 40-minute game, head coach Mark Morefield has plenty of options off the bench, which allows for a consistent intensity level from the team. Prior to Saturday’s 71-57 loss to ETBU, UMHB had won its previous 20 games, and sits atop the Region 10 rankings, with a 6-2 record against regionally ranked opponents. The Cru breezed through the conference schedule, beating 10 of the 11 teams twice, and enters the tournament second in the league in shooting percentage (40.6%). If they can get the ball into the paint and score, they will have success.
Most impressive win: 72-70 (OT) at No. 14 ETBU, Jan. 13
Quarterfinal matchup: No. 8 seed Belhaven, Thursday, 2:30 p.m.
No. 2 Seed: ETBU (19-4, 15-3 ASC)
The Tigers are perhaps the league’s best defensive team, forcing opponents into long jump-shots and three-point attempts, taking away scoring options in the post. Allowing just 53.4 points per game entering the tournament, ETBU’s defense generates its offense. The Tigers shoot the three-pointer especially well, at 30.7 percent from beyond the arc, and also give themselves plenty of second-chance opportunities by winning the offensive rebounding battle.
Most impressive win: 56-51 at No. 17 Hardin-Simmons, Jan. 20
Quarterfinal matchup: No. 7 Seed Concordia, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
No. 3 Seed: Hardin-Simmons (18-4, 13-4 ASC)
A strong offensive team, HSU can score from anywhere on the floor. The Cowgirls shoot a high volume of threes, but also work the ball inside, and can score at the rim. Losing the season series against UMHB and ETBU hurt HSU’s chances at the regular season ASC title, but head coach Kendra Hassell’s team is certainly a tournament contender. The Cowgirls picked up narrow wins over Trinity and Colorado College early in the year, and have won their last six games.
Most impressive win: 65-63 vs Trinity (TX), Nov. 12
Quarterfinal matchup: No. 6 Seed Sul Ross State, Thursday, 5:00 p.m.
No. 4 Seed: UT-Dallas (13-7, 12-5 ASC)
With four losses in its last seven games, UTD is a clear dark horse entering the tournament, as the record does not tell the entire story. The Comets defend the perimeter incredibly well, and limit open scoring opportunities, which can cut down on any team’s offensive production. The league champion in 2019, UTD knows how to rise to the occasion in postseason play. Guard Paris Kiser finished the regular season third in the ASC in scoring, with 15.3 points per game.
Most impressive win: 53-49 vs No. 9 ETBU, Nov. 29
Quarterfinal matchup: No. 5 Seed LeTourneau, Thursday, 12:00 p.m.
No. 5 Seed: LeTourneau (13-8, 10-6 ASC)
Led by the league’s top scorer, Keauna Whitfield (18.5 PPG), the Yellowjackets have stayed in games this season against nationally ranked opponents due to their ability to limit turnovers, and move the ball on offense. Tied as the league’s top team in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0), LETU has been inconsistent at times, but enters the week coming off consecutive victories, including a key road win at UT-Dallas.
Most impressive win: 76-73 at UT-Dallas, Feb. 15
Quarterfinal matchup: No. 4 seed UT-Dallas, Thursday, 12:00 p.m.
No. 6 Seed: Sul Ross State (14-11, 10-10 ASC)
A team with great potential who turned a 2-5 start in ASC play into a five-game win streak in late January, SRSU is one of the dark horses of this tournament. The Lobos beat No. 21 ETBU a couple of weeks ago, and nearly handed UMHB its first loss as well on Feb. 12. Both of those games were played in Alpine, but regardless, SRSU shoots the ball well from long range (30.1 on 3-pointers) and has converted on 72 percent of its free throws, the second-best mark in the ASC.
Most impressive win: 77-73 vs No. 16 ETBU, Feb. 5
Quarterfinal matchup: No. 3 seed Hardin-Simmons, Thursday, 5:00 p.m.
No. 7 Seed: Concordia (9-16, 7-13 ASC)
With a smaller lineup, Concordia relies heavily on its guard play, which has been solid on both ends of the floor this season. The Tornadoes won twice over the final three games of ASC play, clinching a conference tournament spot, and their defense was a key piece in that. CTX allowed over 70 points in a game on just three occasions in ASC play, and held Belhaven to a mere 13 first-half points in the regular season finale. Five of the Tornadoes’ seven victories in conference action came against teams who did not qualify for the ASC Tournament.
Most impressive win: 59-54 at Belhaven, Jan. 13
Quarterfinal matchup: No. 2 seed ETBU, Thursday 7:30 p.m.
No. 8 Seed: Belhaven (10-10, 5-10 ASC)
One of the conference’s better rebounding teams, Belhaven is strong in the post. Led by forward Xhiir Burgess (8.3 rebounds per game) and center Hayle Poindexter, who has started each of the last nine games, the Blazers score best from short-range. However, they do have a few outside scoring threats, such as guard Shomaria Overton (13.4 points per game). Belhaven opened the year with three non-conference victories, as well as a season-opening exhibition win over then-No. 25 Millsaps.
Most impressive win: 64-55 vs Sul Ross State, Dec. 18
Quarterfinal matchup: No. 1 seed UMHB, Thursday 2:30 p.m.