ABILENE- A strong second half from eighth-ranked Hardin-Simmons in Saturday afternoon’s regular season finale gave way to an 84-67 victory for the Cowgirls, as they outscored the UMHB women’s basketball team, 45-23, over the final two quarters.
The loss closes the regular season for the Crusaders, who went 13-5 in American Southwest Conference action, and will be the No. 3 seed in next week’s ASC Tournament. UMHB is set to host Concordia (TX) in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
“We’ll use this game as momentum,” UMHB interim head coach Kendra Foreman said postgame. “We’ll clean up the little mishaps and lapses that we had, and come Tuesday, we’ll be ready to go.”
HSU more than backed up its Top 10 ranking, completing the regular season with a flawless 18-0 ASC record, becoming the first team in the league since Howard Payne in 2008 to complete the year with an undefeated conference mark playing at least 18 games.
The Cowgirls shot 54.5 percent from the field in the win, and 8-of-17 from the three-point line. But it was the Cru who started stronger offensively, jumping out to a 21-16 lead in the opening quarter. Freshman Catalina Cortez put seven points on the board, giving the Cru a 17-12 lead with her third made shot.
“We shot 69 percent in the first quarter, which is pretty high,” Foreman said postgame. “We did get cold at one point, but we weren’t getting the stops we needed throughout the game. That is what cost us in the end.”
A 6-0 HSU scoring run began the second quarter, and neither team found much separation over the next 10 minutes. In fact, neither side led by more than three until Belton native Natasha Blizzard scored on a layup at the buzzer, giving HSU a 39-34 lead at halftime. But the hosts’ advantage quickly swelled beyond single digits, as veteran guard Parris Parmer, on senior day, swished home consecutive three-pointers, giving HSU a 51-39 lead just over three minutes into the second half.
HSU never let up from there, as the Crusaders cut the deficit to eight later in the third, only to watch the Cowgirls extend the advantage once again, this time to 17.
“Hardin-Simmons is known for their drive-and-kick threes,” Foreman said. “They found their shot and got hot. We didn’t make the adjustment quick enough, I believe, of knowing what they wanted to do and staying home on the shooters. Next time, we’ll know to stay home [on those plays].”
UMHB is 18-6 overall entering the postseason and the Cru has won its first game of the conference tournament in each of the last seven seasons dating back to the 2016-17 campaign.
UMHB stat leaders
Points: Lauren Baker (17), Ashley Faux (12), Catalina Cortez (10)
Rebounds: Ashley Faux (7), Arieona Rosborough (5), Addy Self (5)
Assists: Lauren Baker (3), Jaycie Brisco (2), Payton Hicks (2), Catalina Cortez (2)