Photo by Neil Faux/@FauxFx
ATLANTA, Ga.- Entering the season opener, Mark Morefield had two objectives for his team, ranked No. 15 in the nation.
The first was to limit the three-point shooting of Emory, a team whose 4-0 record had come about in part due to a shooting percentage of 40.2 percent from beyond the arc. The second was to keep Claire Brock’s points to a minimum.
UMHB accomplished both. The Crusaders held their opponents to 28.6 percent on three-pointers, and Brock, Emory’s leading scorer at 27.5 points per game, had just 15. A hard-earned win followed, with the Cru pulling out a 63-59 victory on Emory’s home court.
How it happened
With four minutes left, the score was knotted at 57 apiece as UMHB’s Arieona Rosborough came up with a steal and a fast break layup, bringing her point total to 14. 45 seconds later, after a missed layup from short-range by Emory, freshman Addison Self saw her layup fall through the net, giving UMHB a two-point advantage.
It was a lead the Cru did not relinquish, holding Emory to just four points over the final 5:44, all of which came on free throws. Playing superior defense down the stretch, UMHB added to its lead with three free throws in the last 20 seconds, making it a two-possession game, and out of reach for Emory, with such little time on the clock.
The level of defense that UMHB finished the game with was the same level at which the Crusaders started in the opening quarter, as the starting five forced two early missed shots and limited Emory to four points in the first five minutes. The Eagles held a 16-15 lead at the end of the first 10 minutes.
“I thought we came out in the first quarter really well defensively,” Morefield said. “It was probably our best defense in those first five minutes. It’s the first game of the year, so there’s going to be jitters, but I liked what our starting five did defensively.”
The starters, including returners Ashley Faux, Catherine Kaiser, and Rosborough, along with transfer guards Jaycie Brisco and Payton Hicks set the tempo well in the early goings. Kaiser tallied the first points of the season less than two minutes in, with her layup that gave UMHB a brief 2-0 lead. Rosborough and Hicks scored on consecutive possessions three minutes later, flipping a 6-2 Emory lead into a 7-6 advantage for the visitors from Belton.
By halftime, Emory led 34-32, but UMHB had already begun to find its rhythm. In a contest with 14 lead changes, the poise of both teams was evident. The Crusaders shot 53 percent from the field in the third quarter, where they outscored the opposition 20-14. They opened the fourth on a 4-0 run, with Kaiser and Rosborough combining to widen the lead to 10.
An impressive aspect of the win was the fact that UMHB outrebounded Emory 45-38, which both limited the Eagles’ second-chance scoring opportunities and resulted in 10 second-chance points of their own. Without Kaitlyn Kollmorgen on the roster, the team’s leading rebounder last season, it was unclear just who would step up to fill that void. The answer was not one player, but a handful. Weade Adeleke had six rebounds, Kaiser had five, and Self had three. Additionally, Rosborough had a team-high seven boards. 10 of the 12 Crusaders who saw action recorded at least one rebound.
“We may not have one person like Kaitlyn, who is going to get you 12 rebounds,” Morefield said, “but we’ve got three aggressive, nose-to-the-ball-type rebounders. We’ve had people step up that can fill the rebounding voids.”
UMHB returns to the court in a Sunday afternoon contest against Lynchburg, who is 1-3 overall.
“We have to make sure we keep our focus,” Morefield said. “When we head back on Monday, we have to be 2-0. For us to get where we want to go, it started in Atlanta, but we want to go to Dallas [for the 2023 D-III national title game].”