UMHB men’s team earns NCAA bid, 1st round bye
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 by Tony Adams
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor played very scrappy competition in the American Southwest Conference tournament. UMHB withstood the first two challenges from LeTourneau and Hardin-Simmons. And the Cru nearly came back on the Concordia Texas Tornados. But a deep second-half deficit could not be overcome, as the Tornados, dropped the Cru in the ASC Championship Final 80-76 at the UT-Dallas Activity Center.
In the tournament opener against LeTourneau, the Cru controlled the game early and built a 29-16 lead with 2:39 left in the first half. LeTourneau outscored UMHB 8-2 the rest of the first half to cut the gap to 31-24 at halftime. The Cru never led by more than six points after the Yellowjackets scored the opening basket of the second half. LeTourneau pulled to within 53-52 with 4:33 remaining. Orr nailed a three-pointer on the next UMHB possession and the Cru stretched the lead back to seven points on three Brian Todd free throws. LeTourneau did not get closer than five points the rest of the way as the Cru was able to ice the game from the stripe.
Orr topped UMHB with 20 points and he hit 4-8 from three-point range. Allen added 16 points and Kitrick Bell had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds. The Cru shot just 35 percent from the field and 15-28 from the free-throw line. UMHB was also out rebounded 45-42 in the game.
Ladaria Brown led LeTourneau with 14 points and Deitrich Williams and Justin Jones scored 12 points apiece. The Yellowjackets shot just 33 percent from the field and went 7-25 from three-point range.
Against Hardin-Simmons in the semi-finals, The Cru built an early 16-9 lead before HSU battled back to take a 27-20 lead late in the first half. UMHB closed the half with a 13-4 run and took a 33-31 halftime lead on Allen's three-pointer in the final seconds of the half. The two teams see-sawed the lead until the game was tied 54-54 with 7:20 left. The Cru stretched the lead to seven points before HSU cut it to one at 57-56 with 6:39 remaining. Orr hit back-to-back three-pointers to give UMHB a 63-56 lead and the Cowboys never got closer than three points the rest of the game.
Orr led UMHB with a career-high 34 points on 12-18 shooting. Brian Todd added 14 points and eight rebounds and Allen had 10 points. The Cru shot 55 percent from the field in the second half and hit 47 percent for the game. UMHB also out rebounded the Cowboys 39-30 in the victory.
John Derr topped HSU with 24 points and he hit 6-12 from three-point range. Eric Taylor had 15 points and Andy Spears scored 14 while pulling down eight boards. The Cowboys shot 39 percent from the field and went 9-22 from beyond the arc.
In the championship game, UMHB stormed back from a double-digit deficit in the final minutes, but the comeback fell just short in an 80-76 loss to Concordia Texas. Concordia took a 78-68 lead 1:02 remaining on Josh Sanchez's free-throw. Tod's lay-in reduced the deficit to 78-70 with 44 seconds left. UMHB then forced back-to-back turnovers. Allen and Cory Meals hit three-pointers to cut the gap to 78-76 with 27 seconds remaining. The Cru was forced to foul and Terry Corprew hit both free-throws to make it 80-76 with 19 seconds left. The Cru missed two three-point shots in the final seconds as Concordia held on for the win. The Tornados led by as many as 16 points in the second half before UMHB chipped away. The Cru trailed 42-32 at halftime after shooting just 36 percent in the first half.
Allen led UMHB with 21 points. Orr added 20 on 8-14 shooting and Todd scored 14 points. The Cru shot 49 percent from the field, but went just 15-28 from the free-throw line and turned the ball over 20 times.
Sanchez led all scorers with 34 for the Tornados on 10-19 shooting. Dwayne Patterson added 11 before fouling out midway through the second half. Concordia shot 44 percent from the field and went 24-36 from the stripe. The victory earned Concordia an automatic birth in the Division III NCAA Tournament, traveling to take on Trinity (20-7) in San Antonio on Saturday. Trinity eliminated UMHB last season in the D-III Tournament opener here in Belton.
Sanchez earned ASC Tournament MVP honors, as a result of his 34-point performance against the Cru. Orr and Allen were named to the ASC All-Tournament Team.
UMHB got the call on Monday that they earned one of the 20 at-large bids into Division III's March Madness. Even more important: the earned one of the tournament's precious two first-round byes, with the other going to Amherst (NY).
This honor does not come without an interesting bridge of events leading to the D-III Final Four.
Because the championship game will not be played until April 7 in Atlanta, the tournament is spread out over three weeks instead of the customary two-week run. Thus, UMHB won't see the start of their tournament until March 9, hosting the winner of Trinity-Concordia in a second round match up.
"Personally, I would rather play someone in the first round," said coach Ken DeWeese. "We've been playing since Thanksgiving and going and going, and now we aren't and then we will be again. It depends on the mindset of the team. If they approach it properly, there could be good things about it."
On thing that can be said about the long span between games: the team will not be tired.
"We have not played particularly well this month because January took so much out of us with the eight-game road stretch," said DeWeese. "And our rotation of guys has gotten to be pretty tight. From that standpoint, at least they'll get their energy and quickness back."