The NCAA Tournament is upon us, and UMHB men’s basketball is aiming at a first round victory for the second straight season, facing Schreiner, the champion out of the SCAC, tonight in Belton. Here is what you need to know about both teams before tip-off at 7:20 p.m. CT from the Mayborn Campus Center. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children, students, and seniors.
Conference: American Southwest
Record: 21-5, 16-2 ASC
Head coach: Clif Carroll (3rd season)
In last 5 games: 4-1
Record: 15-13, 6-10 SCAC
Head coach: Marwan Elrakabawy (4th season)
In last 5 games: 4-1
The road to the regional
UMHB won the ASC’s regular season title with a victory over Hardin-Simmons on the final day of the regular season, and earned the right to host the ASC Tournament, But the Crusaders fell to HSU in the semifinal round less than a week later, by a score of 78-71. The Cru earned an at-large (Pool C) bid to the NCAA Tournament, reaching the national tournament for the second straight year.
Schreiner needed a win over Texas Lutheran on the final day of the regular season to even clinch a spot in the SCAC Tournament, held the following week in San Antonio. There, the Mountaineers defeated three teams who had already beaten them twice on the year, including an upset of St. Thomas, who was No. 1 in Region 10, and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. A 69-67 win on Sunday clinched Schreiner’s spot in the NCAA Tournament, the program’s first since the 2017-18 campaign.
Schreiner tops the SCAC leaderboard in two statistical categories: rebounds per game, and assists per game. The Mountaineers average 39.5 rebounds per contest, with 12.1 offensive boards, and their 14.3 assists per game is also No. 1 in the league. Dylan Mackey, Beau Cervantes, and Alex Dehoyos each rank in the league’s Top 10 in the assists per game category.
You don’t want to send the Cru to the free throw line. From the charity stripe this season, UMHB has shot 78.24 percent, ranking 7th amongst all D-III programs. They have converted at least 70 percent of their free throws in eight of the last nine games.
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Remember the name
Josiah Johnson was named the ASC’s Player of the Year for the second straight season on Tuesday, earning the superlative after averaging 21.7 points per game and ranking 18th in D-III with 565 points this season. The senior guard from Big Sandy, Texas is UMHB’s all-time leading scorer, and has scored at least 10 points in all 26 games this season.
Kamden Ross was the Most Outstanding Player of the SCAC Tournament, and for good reason. A 6’5 first-year player for Schreiner, Ross scored 20 points in the quarterfinal win over Colorado College, followed by a 13-point, 6-rebound performance in the upset of St. Thomas. He had seven points and 15 rebounds in the championship game against Trinity (TX). On the season, Ross is averaging 12.3 points per game.
Where do you go from here?
The winner of this contest will battle the winner of Friday’s first round matchup between East Texas Baptist (ASC champion) and St. Thomas. Saturday’s second round contest is set for 7:20 p.m. on Saturday night in Belton.