Photo by Neil Faux/True To The Cru/@FauxFx31
ABILENE- Lauren Baker scored 20 points, and the UMHB women’s basketball team held a nine-point lead with three minutes left in the fourth quarter of Friday’s ASC Tournament semifinal, but it was not enough to overcome a late surge from ETBU, who advanced to the conference championship game in a 68-65 overtime victory.
UMHB (19-8 overall), was outscored 11-8 in overtime, and had two chances to take the lead within the final 15 seconds, but both shots were slightly off the mark, hitting the rim rather than falling through the net. It ended UMHB’s run in the ASC Tournament in the semifinal round for the second straight season, as the Crusaders fell to ETBU (20-6 overall) for the third time in the 2022-23 season.
With three seconds left in the fourth quarter, a layup from Baker put UMHB in front by two, 57-55, but ETBU countered with a game-tying layup at the buzzer from Mollie Dittmar, who had a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double in ETBU’s win. Dittmar’s layup sent the game into overtime, where the Tigers eventually pulled out the win, with three Jade Goynes free throws in the final minute keeping ETBU in front.
UMHB led for much of the final quarter, claiming a nine-point advantage on Addy Self’s layup at the 3:14 mark as part of a 5-2 scoring run. But Kaia Williams kept the Tigers in contention with a 3-pointer 50 seconds later, and ETBU tallied two more 3-pointers in the 9-0 spurt, tying the score at 55 apiece with 1:10 left.
The fourth quarter did not play out without some drama involved, as ETBU head coach Blake Arbogast left the designated coaches box with 35.3 seconds left, running down the sideline towards the UMHB bench. It appeared Arbogast was trying to call a timeout, and despite protest from the UMHB coaching staff, the officials did not call a technical foul on Arbogast. Generally, leaving the designated coaches box, which ends just before midcourt, is grounds for a technical foul, regardless of the reason. The no-call kept possession with ETBU, and proved to be one of the more controversial plays of the contest.
The late fourth quarter surge resembled the game’s early minutes, when ETBU opened the game on a 10-2 run, finding great success on both ends of the floor. For the first seven minutes, 10 seconds, Arieona Rosborough’s jumper at the 6:31 mark was the only made shot for the Cru, until Lauren Baker connected on a three-pointer from the left wing, cutting ETBU’s lead to 10-5.
It sparked a 10-0 run from the visitors from Belton, as UMHB eventually took its first lead, 12-10 on a steal from Baker that saw her race up the court, finishing with a layup. Rosborough and Baker carried the Cru offense through the first 15 minutes, combining to score UMHB’s first 20 points of the game.
The UMHB lead widened to as many as 13 points in the second quarter, when Catalina Cortez’s 3-pointer swished through the net with 3:23 to go. It was the Cru’s sixth 3-pointer of the first half, following a layup from McCall Hampton that made it 26-16 for UMHB’s first double-digit lead.
By halftime, UMHB led 31-22, thanks to a 6-of-14 mark from beyond the 3-point arc along with shooting 36.5 percent from the field. ETBU’s main source of point production came at the free-throw line, where the Tigers were 9-of-10 through the first two quarters.
Though ETBU kept the game within single digits for much of the third quarter, Kenna Gibson’s three-pointer for UMHB extended the advantage once again back to double figures, at 44-33. The two opponents each tallied 15 points in the third quarter, setting up a dramatic finish in the fourth and the overtime that followed.
UMHB will now wait to learn the fate of its season this coming Monday, when the NCAA Tournament field is announced. Though chances of an at-large bid are unlikely, UMHB was regionally ranked in Region 10 this past week, keeping them in the at-large bid conversation.
UMHB stat leaders
Points: Lauren Baker (20), Arieona Rosborough (14), Kenna Gibson (8)
Rebounds: Arieona Rosborough (8), Jaycie Brisco (6), Ashley Faux (5)
Assists: Payton Hicks (3), Addy Self (3), Lauren Baker (3)