Photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
BELTON- In an oddly similar sequence of events to the first time UMHB and Concordia (TX) met on the court this season, Saturday’s matchup saw two competitive halves, with UMHB leading by a narrow margin at halftime, before pulling out a victory in the second half.
With 2:49 left in the game, Concordia’s Chelsea Cogburn converted on a pair of free throws, cutting UMHB’s lead down to a single point, 58-57. UMHB did not convert on another shot for the rest of the contest, and was only 2-of-15 from the field in the quarter, but made all seven of its free throw attempts in that span, emerging with a hard-fought 65-57 win.
The victory moves UMHB to 13-4 and 8-2 in league play. Hardin-Simmons remains the ASC’s first place team.
Though UMHB shot for a decent 31 percent, there were spans when the Crusaders went multiple minutes without putting the ball through the net. In fact, Concordia led 14-11 after the opening quarter, and UMHB held a mere two-point advantage at halftime. But even when the shots were not falling consistently, the Crusaders maintained the lead through taking away Concordia’s scoring opportunities, often through forced turnovers.
“That’s what you have to do sometimes, because the ball is not always going to fall in your favor,” UMHB head coach Mark Morefield said postgame, noting that his team forced 28 turnovers and scored 18 points off of those turnovers. “I think the sign of a good team is [to say], ‘If the shots aren’t falling, let’s go ahead and find another way to win games.”
Saturday’s contest brought back the all-too-familar memory of last season’s loss at Colorado College, in which the Crusaders struggled offensively, and fell 67-58. But unlike that game, UMHB’s defense stepped up, more than making up for the lack of offense at times.
“I always go back to Colorado College last year,” Morefield said. “Shots weren’t falling and we stopped guarding. We ended up losing by nine. Once they grasped the idea that you have to find other ways to generate points [things took a better turn]. Today was one of those days and our defense carried us.”
The Tornadoes converted on just 30 percent of their shots and were a mere 4-for-18 from three-point range. But both teams did one thing very well in the shooting realm: they were extremely accurate from the free-throw line.
“That’s the fruit of a bunch of work,” Morefield said of his team’s strong night at the charity stripe.
Of UMHB’s 25 free-throws, 20 fell through the net. Concordia made just one more, at 21-of-25. The Crusaders were 10-of-11 at the line in the fourth quarter, which almost single-handedly put the game out of reach in the final 90 seconds or so.
“Now we just have to find a game where we can make uncontested layups and shoot free throws well,” Morefield said. “We shot well from the line today, which means we may not shoot great from the line Thursday, but we’ll make all our layups. We have to find an in-between.”
“Thursday” it seems, will require a great deal of both layups and free-throws, anything to give UMHB an advantage in a contest that always seems to bring out the best in both teams. UMHB battles ETBU in that next ASC duel, a program that handed the Crusaders their lone loss of conference play a year ago, and also defeated them in Marshall, 66-59, earlier this season on Dec. 10.
ETBU is 13-5 overall, 7-4 in league play. Tip-off for that contest is set for 5:30 p.m. in Belton.
UMHB stat leaders:
Points: Arieona Rosborough (19), Lauren Baker (14), Ashley Faux (10), Payton Hicks (10)
Rebounds: Jaycie Brisco (9), Arieona Rosborough (8), Lauren Baker (4), Ashley Faux (4)
Assists: Jaycie Brisco (3), Ashley Faux (2), Lauren Baker (2)