Above photo courtesy of the ETBU Athletics Department
MARSHALL- The last time the UMHB women’s basketball team played in an overtime game at Ornelas Gym, the Cru earned a dramatic Top 25 victory over ETBU.
But on Friday night, there was no such victory. UT-Dallas outscored the Cru, ranked No. 16 in the nation and the ASC Tournament’s top seed, 19-6 in overtime, capturing a 66-53 victory.
“We didn’t make shots and we didn’t guard the ball,” UMHB head coach Mark Morefield said. “That’s what it comes down to.”
The loss in the tournament semifinal ended UMHB’s bid at its third straight conference tournament championship. Now the Crusaders will be forced to wait and hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Tournament field will be released on Monday at 2:30 p.m. EST.
“We just told them, ‘You have to be prepared,” Morefield said. “We have a great chance of making the NCAA Tournament. We’ll drive back tomorrow and take Sunday off. You have to be prepared for practice on Monday at 4 o’clock.’”
With just 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter, UMHB held both possession and the lead, but both soon faded as UTD’s Alex Bowman drilled a three-pointer with nine seconds left, forcing the contest into overtime.
Once in overtime, the Comets took control, widening the margin to as many as 11 points in the five-minute period. At perhaps the worst time for an offensive lapse, UMHB did not score for the first four minutes until an Ashley Faux three-pointer with 57 seconds left. By then, it was too late.
The contest was back and forth from the opening tip until the final buzzer, with neither team leading by more than six points in regulation. Bethany McLeod gave UMHB an early 3-0 lead with 8:16 in the first quarter, before Michaela Walker’s layup with 4:30 in the period put UTD up 8-7.
The Comets led 11-10 at the end of the opening quarter, and try as they might, UMHB did not break through, despite tying the score twice, in the early minutes of the second period. That was until Olivia Champion, who had a team-high six points in the first half, drained a midrange jumper that came off a UTD turnover, as the Cru regained its position in the driver’s seat, leading 19-18.
Champion earned another lead for UMHB just under two minutes later, but the Cru went scoreless for the final two minutes of the quarter, trailing by five, 26-21 at the half.
But coming out of halftime, UMHB scored the third quarter’s first seven points, taking a two-point lead on Kaitlyn Kollmorgen’s offensive-rebound-putback. But once again, the lead did not last. Entering the fourth, UTD led 38-35.
True to form, the Cru picked up the pace in the fourth quarter. A second three from McLeod made it a two-possession lead for UMHB with 3:35 left, and even with under a minute left, the Crusaders still led by three. Then things took a much different turn in overtime.
With UMHB now 22-4 on the year, here’s a closer look at how this one unfolded:
Champion’s season-high performance: Champion, a junior, came off the bench and played a season-high 24 minutes, recording 12 points, which was both a season-best and team-high. She connected on five-of-13 field goal attempts, also a season-best, and recorded the Cru’s final points of the ASC Tournament with a three-pointer with 43 seconds remaining in overtime.
19 points off turnovers: With the exception of the overtime period, UMHB’s defensive intensity was notable, something reflected by 17 forced turnovers. It led to 19 points, which was critical in a tight game such as this one. The Cru tallied 10 steals, and repeatedly pushed the ball upcourt in transition in the second half.
Morefield: “Defensively we really did a good job. Defense wasn’t an issue.”
What Needs Improvement
The shooting lapses had been a recurring theme for UMHB over the last several weeks, but was brought out in a must-win situation Friday night. The team was a mere 2-for-9 from the field in the overtime, both of which were three-pointers. They shot just 26.5 percent from the field over all 45 minutes.
Morefield: “Between yesterday and today, we haven’t shot the ball real well. We missed a lot of easies around the bucket and you have to make shots. We just weren’t knocking them down.”
UMHB waits to find out its NCAA Tournament fate on Monday afternoon. The Cru’s chances for an at-large bid would likely be improved with a UTD victory in tomorrow’s ASC Championship game.
Morefield: “I think we’re in a good position. I think we have a great chance to do it. Again, I think our strength of schedule will really help us get there.”