Photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru
BELTON- Inside the Mayborn Campus Center for the final time during the regular season, the UMHB women’s basketball team closed Saturday’s 65-39 win over Ozarks with a statement.
After holding the Eagles to just 34 points through three quarters, the Crusaders put together an outstanding fourth-quarter defensive performance. Layla Powell connected on a three-pointer with 6:40 left in the game. The Eagles never scored again, as UMHB held an opponent below 40 points for the second time this season.
“It starts on the defensive end and doing all the hard work,” UMHB interim head coach Kendra Foreman said postgame. “That’s what it takes and that’s what we did today.”
Ozarks ended up with just five points in the final quarter, and for the game, shot a mere 23.8 percent from the field. That, along with 30 turnovers, and 24 offensive rebounds from the Cru, resulted in a dominant victory for the hosts, who are now 17-6 overall.
“We have a big week ahead of us,” Jaycie Brisco, who had nine points for UMHB, said postgame. “Especially with the loss to Sul Ross [last Thursday] we knew we needed to win these last few games [heading into the ASC Tournament].”
No matter who was on the floor for UMHB, Ozarks was constantly under pressure for all 40 minutes, with nearly every shot contested. The fourth quarter defensive showing was notable, considering the five on the court for the Crusaders consisted of mostly freshmen throughout the period.
“Because we emphasize defense in practice, it was good to see the transfer of learning into a game,” Foreman said. “When we play good defense, good things happen, as you saw.”
The victory sets up a road trip to Abilene in the week to come, with duels against McMurry and Hardin-Simmons set for Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Though Foreman has been leading the program for only the last six games, the team has already seemed to settle in under her leadership, playing with a notable sense of confidence.
“It’s still basically the same, just a different voice,” Foreman said of the transition to her leading the program for the last two weeks. “We’re preaching the same things. And if they do it in practice, they’re going to apply it, and we’ll be successful.”
UMHB jumped out to an early advantage in the contest, leading 16-12 after the first quarter. Ozarks had just nine shot attempts, as seven of the Eagles’ possessions ended early on turnovers. Half of the Cru’s first-quarter points came off turnovers, in fact, and allowed for UMHB’s early separation from its opposition. A 6-2 run started the second quarter, and by halftime, the hosts led 31-19.
Though Ozarks briefly closed the gap to 11 points on an Amanda Turpin three-pointer midway through the third, UMHB issued a prompt response. Four different players accounted for the Cru’s next seven points as the margin widened to 18. With 4:22 left in the quarter, UMHB’s Kenna Gibson connected on a three just a few feet in front of the Crusader bench. The swish of the net could be heard from the stands, as her shot put UMHB in front, 48-29.
The Cru scored six of the first eight points in the fourth, and pulled away behind the defensive effort for the final 10 minutes.
UMHB stat leaders
Points: Arieona Rosborough (15), Lauren Baker (10), Jaycie Brisco (9)
Rebounds: Ashley Faux (10), Addy Self (7), Arieona Rosborough (7)
Assists: Lauren Baker (5), Catalina Cortez (2), Kenna Gibson (2)