Photo by Neil Faux
MARSHALL, Texas–-Katie Novak-Lenoir secured her first victory as UMHB’s head coach on Sunday afternoon, as the Crusaders dominated in a one-sided fourth quarter against Rhodes, holding the Lynx to just two points over the final 10 minutes in a 64-48 victory.
It was the kind of bounce-back win UMHB needed, after surrendering 36 fourth-quarter points to Trinity (TX) in Saturday’s season-opening loss. The Tigers roared back in their 84-74 win, erasing the 10-point lead the Crusaders held entering the fourth quarter.
But on Sunday, it was UMHB who came from behind, having been outscored in each of the first three quarters. The Cru finished the game on a 25-2 scoring run, and held Rhodes off the board for the game’s final eight minutes and 32 seconds.
“I was glad to see we bounced back,” Novak-Lenoir said postgame. “It took us three quarters to get there. It was kind of a reverse of yesterday, where we had three good quarters and one bad. I’d say it was three poor quarters for us and one good [today].
“We lacked in our fourth-quarter defense [against Trinity], so to see us turn that around was a positive for sure. It was a good step in the right direction. We stayed stagnant on some other things, but we finished the game well, and that’s what we had to do.”
Offense was one of those areas that remained stagnant for a good portion of the contest, as UMHB shot just 32.3 percent and finished 3-of-14 from 3-point range. Rhodes opened the game matching UMHB score-for-score, and took a 14-13 lead through the first 10 minutes.
The Lynx then went on to outscore UMHB 15-13 in the second quarter, and carried a 29-26 lead into halftime. A 3-pointer just over a minute into the third quarter from Rhodes’ Audrey Griffith made it a six-point lead for the visitors from Memphis, and that advantage swelled to eight points midway through. A late 3-pointer in the third from Kearstyn Seay put Rhodes up 46-39 heading into the final quarter, which is when things picked up for UMHB on both ends of the floor, and especially offensively.
“We definitely let our offense, which was very stagnant and slow, dictate the defensive energy we had for a while,” Novak-Lenoir added. “It took some time, but we finally got it clicking a little bit. We just have to keep getting used to each other and be more consistent, and get into a better flow of the game on both ends of the floor early.”
Once the fourth quarter rolled around, a switch seemed to flip for The Cru, starting with Lauren Baker’s short-range jumper that made it 46-41. A 3-pointer from Baker with 7:38 left cut Rhodes’ lead to two, and Ashley Faux added another 3-pointer after the Lynx turned the ball over. Faux’s long-range shot put UMHB in the lead for the first time since the 1:23 mark of the second quarter, as the Crusaders went in front, 49-48.
“I thought specifically we didn’t do a good job of [turning turnovers into points] last night,” Novak-Lenoir noted when asked about UMHB’s 26 points over turnovers against Rhodes. “That’s something we talked about a little bit. We were focusing on capitalizing on, ‘We worked that hard, you get that steal, you force that turnover, we have to make it count.’”
Down the stretch, the Crusaders remained engaged defensively, which made a world of difference in maintaining the advantage. Rhodes closed the game by missing 10 of its final 11 shots.
Everything seemed to fall into rhythm in the final quarter, especially as UMHB utilized good ball movement, leading to a number of open shots. Jaycie Brisco’s jumper in the paint with 2:11 left gave UMHB’s its first double-digit lead of the contest, as the Cru went up 11, 59-48. Consistent free throw shooting was amongst the positives in the performance, as the Crusaders were 19-of-22 from the line, including a 9-of-10 mark in the fourth quarter.
Statistically, Baker led The Cru with 18 points and Arieona Rosborough added 15. Rosborough also finished as the leading rebounder, at six boards, while Baker and Alexis Carmosino added five apiece.
UMHB heads into the second week of the regular season with a 1-1 record, while Rhodes drops to 0-2. Willamette and Pacific are anticipated to provide a pair of challenging matchups for UMHB next weekend, when the Crusaders head west to Forest Grove, Oregon. Willamette is 1-0 against D-III opponents this season, having beaten Whittier, 55-52, on Sunday. Pacific took down D-II Alaska Anchorage in an exhibition last week, and despite falling to Stevens in its regular season opener, the Boxers are anticipated to be a key contender in the Northwest Conference this season.