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PREVIEW: ASC play resumes for UMHB men’s and women’s basketball at Ozarks, UTD

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ASC play resumes for the UMHB men’s and women’s basketball teams in the week ahead, as the Crusaders head north of Belton for a pair of contests, and travel out of state for the only time in conference action. The UMHB women have won their last two, and are 9-3 overall, ranked 24th in the nation by entering the week. The UMHB men are 8-4, and have won their last three matchups played on the road.

We preview the week for CRU basketball presented by The Best of Belton 

Follow the action

Thursday: @ Ozarks

Time: 5:30 p.m. (Women), 7:30 p.m. (Men)

Place: Clarksville, Arkansas (Mabee Gym)


Saturday: @ UT-Dallas

Time: 1:00 p.m. (Women), 3:00 p.m. (Men)

Place: Richardson, Texas (UTD Activity Center)


Ozarks Eagles (Women)

Located: Clarksville, Arkansas

Head Coach: Shauna Watson (2nd Season)

Conference: American Southwest

Overall Record: 5-7

ASC Record: 2-3

Season Summary: The Eagles began the year 3-3 but went just 2-5 in the month of December. A 72-70 win at McMurry on Dec. 15 is Ozarks’ last win, and likely their best win of the season. They enter Thursday’s matchup trying to break a three-game losing skid. 

Ozarks Eagles (Men)

Located: Clarksville, Arkansas

Head Coach: Matt Bolton (1st season) 

Conference: American Southwest

Overall Record: 7-5

ASC Record: 2-3

Season Summary: Bolton’s first season as head coach began with three straight victories. Ozarks began the month of December with a three-point win over Sul Ross State, which remains their best victory. Entering Thursday’s matchup against UMHB, the Eagles have dropped four straight. 

UT-Dallas Comets (Women) 

Located: Richardson, Texas

Head Coach: Joe Shotland (1st season)

Conference: American Southwest

Overall Record: 8-5

ASC Record; 4-2

Season Summary: The Comets opened the year by losing three of their first four, though two of those losses came to Top 25 opponents in Rochester and Transylvania. But UTD has now won four of its last five, and recently beat Southwestern 68-52 in non-conference play on Dec. 30. 

UT-Dallas Comets (Men)

Located: Richardson, Texas

Head Coach: Terry Butterfield (24th season)

Conference: ASC

Overall Record: 11-2

ASC Record: 6-0

Season Summary: The Comets have gotten off to a terrific start, and currently sit alone atop the ASC standings as the only team in the league undefeated in conference play at this point. After falling to St. Thomas (TX), on Nov. 23, UTD has won its last seven. 

Storylines & Notes

First time coaching matchups

There will be a first-time coaching matchup on both Thursday and Saturday, as Matt Bolton leads his Ozarks team into a matchup against the UMHB men for the first time and Joe Shotland faces the Crusader women for the first time as a head coach. Interestingly, both first-year opposing coaches have been on the bench for previous meetings against UMHB, with Bolton, 25 years old, having been the assistant for the Eagles last season. Shotland served as an assistant for Trinity (TX) women’s team for seven seasons, including during four meetings between the Cru and Tigers. Both Bolton and Shotland are first-time head coaches. 

The 150-win mark 

UMHB head men’s basketball coach Clif Carroll needs two more victories to reach the career 150-win mark, as he has 52 wins in three seasons as UMHB’s head coach, in addition to 78 in five years at Sul Ross State and 18 in two seasons at McMurry. In total, he in his 10th year as a head coach, and at the D-III level, with SRSU and UMHB, entered this season averaging 17.43 wins per season. 

ASC recognition

Earlier in the week, both the UMHB men and women were represented in the ASC’s weekly Player of the Week awards. 

Josiah Johnson was named the Men’s Player of the Week, having averaged 26.5 points per game in the four-game span of the holiday break. He made 32 of 37 free throw attempts and averaged eight made field goals per game. Adding to his stat line was 15 steals, 23 rebound and four blocks. 

Arieona Rosborough was recognized as the Women’s Player of the Week, averaging 11.5 points per game over the previous four contests. Within that span, she posted a double-double against a Top 25 opponent in Puget Sound, tallied a season-best 19 points in the win over Piedmont, and also led the team in scoring with 15 points against UC Santa Cruz on Monday. She also had 28 rebounds and 10 steals. 

MBB: The UMHB offense will be tested

On the men’s side, the Comets of UTD have been the ASC’s top defensive team this season, a common title held by the program under the direction of longtime head coach Terry Butterfield. Butterfield’s teams are disciplined defensively, and have limited opponents to an average of 65.6 points per game in 11 contests. Teams are shooting just 41.8 percent against UTD, second-best in the conference. 

The only team ahead of UTD in that category is Ozarks, meaning the Crusaders face two of the conference’s top defensive squads in the same week. Ozarks is the only ASC program currently holding opponents below 40 percent from the field, at 39.9%, which ranks 50th nationally. Opponents shoot just 26.8 percent from three-point range against the Eagles, which is the top mark in the ASC, and 19th-best in D-III. 

MBB: Rebounding will be key in UMHBs’ matchup at Ozarks

Staying strong on the boards has been something UMHB has done quite well in as of late, winning the rebounding battle in three of its last four games. But Ozarks has two of the best rebounders in the conference, with the duo of Tylan Jackson and Josh Ukpe. Both are, interestingly enough, Texas natives, and rank in the top five in the ASC in rebounds per game. Jackson, a transfer from Western Texas JC, averages 7.2 RPG, and Ukpe, a transfer from Southern Arkansas, tallies 7.1 RPG. As a team, Ozarks averages 39.2 rebounds per contest, second-best in the ASC. 

ASC Individual Stat Leaders (UMHB players ranking in the Top 5 of any stat category)

Points: Josiah Johnson, #1 (22.7 PPG)

Field Goal Percentage: Ty Prince, #4 (56.3%)

Free Throw Percentage: Josiah Johnson, #4 (85.8%)

Assist-to-turnover ratio: Kyle Wright, #2 (2.5)

Steals: Josiah Johnson, #1 (3.0/gm), Kyle Wright, #4 (2.2/gm), 

WBB: Winning the turnover battle is a strength of UMHB

The Crusaders have been incredibly good when it comes to forcing turnovers, so good that in all but two games this season, the opponent has turned the ball over at least 20 times. On average, UMHB’s opponents turn the ball over 23.7 times per game, while the Cru is at 17.1 per contest. The margin of +6.58 is the best in the ASC by +2.16, and UMHB’s assist-to-turnover ratio ranks second in the conference, as the Cru averages 15.0 assists per game. 

WBB: Potential defensive matchup in store

Both UMHB and UTD have been strong on the defensive end this season, with UTD leading the conference in fewest points allowed (53.9 per game), and UMHB ranking first in steals (13.8 per game). All indications point towards this being a lower-scoring contest, though UMHB does rank fourth in the ASC in points per game. 

WBB: Transfers having an impact across the league

For both UMHB and its opponents in this coming week of ASC games, transfers will continue playing a key role in their respective teams’ performances. 

UMHB’s Payton Hicks, who previously played at UTRGV, ranks second on the team in minutes per game, leads the conference in steals and averages 8.3 points per game. Jaycie Brisco has also been tremendous on the defensive end for the Cru, and is a transfer from SAGU. 

Ozarks has been boosted by the presence of Amanda Turpin, a 6’0 forward who stayed within the conference, transferring from Howard Payne. She scored 31 in a five-point win over her former team on Dec. 3 and leads the Eagles in scoring at 13.6 points per game. 

UTD has also seen the presence of a transfer having an impact in its success. Southwestern transfer Lauren Fulenwider has started 11 games and is the Comets’ top three-point shooter, with 22 made shots from beyond the arc. 

ASC individual stat leaders (UMHB players ranking in the Top 5 of any statistical category) 

Steals: Payton Hicks, #1 (33), Arieona Rosborough, #3 (28), Jaycie Brisco, #3 (28)

Blocks: Ashley Faux, #4 (13)

Field Goal Percentage: Arieona Rosborough, #1 (47.7%)

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