Photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
BELTON- Against UT-Dallas, the top defense in the American Southwest Conference, the UMHB women’s basketball team gave the Comets a taste of their own medicine on Thursday night.
Through two quarters, the Comets scored just 15 points, as UMHB led 25-15 at the intermission. In three of the game’s four quarters, UTD was held below 10 points. On top of that, they shot just 27 percent from the field. It all added up to a 50-43 victory for the Crusaders, who are now 11-4 in the ASC, and 3-2 under interim head coach Kendra Foreman.
“I’m always preaching that defense leads to easy buckets,” Foreman said postgame. “That’s what happened tonight. We played good defense and were able to shut them down.”
How it happened
UTD tied the game at 8-8 with 2:48 left in the opening quarter, but the Comets would not score again until the second was more than halfway complete, only finding the bottom of the net on Cierra Trigg’s jumper with 4:05 left. That gave UMHB time for an 11-0 scoring run, sparked by layups on conseuctive possessions from McCall Hampton, with exceptional defense translating into offense and a 19-8 lead.
“Defense is everything,” Lauren Baker, who led UMHB with 11 points, said postgame. “Our coaches preach every single day that defense will lead to offense. We focus so much on the defensive end that the [offense] seems to come naturally to us.”
The Cru had points where the offense was on full display, such as when Baker led off the third quarter with back-to-back scores, widening UMHB’s lead to 14. But the Comets did their fair share of shot-contesting too, living up to their reputation as a hard-nosed, defensively-sound squad.
UMHB’s 25 first-half points were the lowest scoring total in the first two quarters of a game for the Cru since the less-than-memorable 74-63 loss at #4 Trinity (TX) on Dec. 19. Six of the Cru’s 13 second-quarter points came at the free throw line, as they shot just 18.8 percent from the field. Ironically enough, UTD head coach Joe Shotland’s collegiate coaching career began at Trinity, where he was an assistant for seven years before taking the UTD job this past spring.
“I think one of the signs that your players believe in you is that they give you everything on the defensive end,” Shotland said postgame, noting that is a characteristic evident in Trinity’s program under the direction of Cameron Hill. “The first thing is having kids that are mentally and physically tough. We have that in boatloads at UTD. We do a pretty good job of getting stops and that takes a five-man unit really working hard.”
The intensity on the defensive end indeed kept the Comets in it, especially with the low point production. UMHB’s zone defense just did not allow for much offense, with UTD’s biggest scoring quarter coming in the third, when the Comets outscored the Cru 19-14, cutting the deficit to 39-34 heading into the fourth.
“We cracked the code a little bit there,” Shotland responded when asked about the third. “I thought that was a testament to the resilience of this group.”
Both sides shot, interestingly enough, exactly 7-of-15 from the field in the third, with the Comets connecting on a trio of three-pointers, cutting the Cru’s advantage to just three points. The hot shooting forced UMHB out of its zone defense for a short time, as the Cru sought to eliminate UTD’s outside scoring opportunities. But once they went back to it in the fourth, the results proved beneficial; UTD shot just 25 percent in the final quarter, held to a mere nine points.
“Their shooters got hot, so we wanted to spread out and get into some pressure,” Foreman said. “After we did that, we forced some misses and then we finished [the game with the zone].”
After not utilizing its zone defense much for an extended period of time this season, UMHB ran it to near-perfection, holding UTD to the fewest points the Comets had scored in ASC play this season.
“Kendra has done a great job, and what a testament that is to her as a coach and a person, that the team has rallied around her,” Shotland noted. “They came out with a zone they really hadn’t done a whole lot this year. It was a really nice coaching move on her part. I still think we got some good shots, but they’re physical, long, and rebound well. You’ve got to focus and capitalize when you get shots and that’s hard to do against a team like UMHB.”
UMHB stat leaders
Points: Lauren Baker (11), Arieona Rosborough (7), McCall Hampton (7)
Rebounds: Jaycie Brisco (6), Lauren Baker (5), Addy Self (5)
Assists: Ashley Faux (2), Lauren Baker (2), Catalina Cortez (2), Kenna Gibson (2), Arieona Rosborough (2)
Team shooting stats: 35.4% FG, 25% 3-point, 66.7% FT
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