The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s basketball team missed a chance to extend its lead from the free-throw line in the final seconds and saw Sul Ross State’s Tristen Licon bank in a game-winning three-pointer at the final buzzer as the Lobos edged the Cru 97-95 Saturday afternoon in Belton. The loss drops UMHB to 14-6 overall and 7-5 in American Southwest Conference play. The Lobos hold on to first place in the ASC West and improve to 15-5 overall and 10-2 in the ASC with the victory.
There were six lead changes and seven ties in the second half before Shaq Martin’s three-pointer with 33 seconds remaining gave the Cru a 93-89 lead. Stephen Walker cut it to 93-92 with a three-pointer eight seconds later, but UMHB answered with two Demarius Cress free throws. A B.J. Hollis basket cut the Cru lead to 95-94 with seven seconds to go. The Lobos sent UMHB to the free-throw line again with 3.5 seconds on the clock, but the Cru came up empty. Jola Otubu grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball ahead to Licon, who banked home the game-winning from well beyond the arc directly in front of the Sul Ross bench. UMHB led 46-44 at halftime, but the Lobos opened the second half with a 12-0 run to take a 10-point lead. The lead would grow to as many as 14 points before the Cru stormed back to take a 77-75 lead on a Cress three with 6:11 to play.
Brian Long poured in a career-high 29 points to lead UMHB and he was 11-16 from the field. Cress added 17 points and six assists for the Cru. King was 3-5 from three-point range and scored 16 points while LaKendric Hyson added 14 points and three blocked shots off the bench. UMHB shot 52 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range in the second half and finished at 49 percent and 39 percent respectively for the game. The Cru was 22-32 from the free-throw line.
Walker hit 13 of his 18 shots to score a game-high 31 points for the Lobos. He also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds. Caleb Thomasson had 16 points and 11 rebounds despite sitting out the final 14 minutes of the first half after picking up his second foul. Licon was 4-5 shooting to score 12 points and Otubu and Gary Ringo, Jr. both scored ten points for Sul Ross State. The Lobos shot 56 percent from the field as a team and hit 60 percent in the second half. Sul Ross also out rebounded UMHB 40-31 with ten of those boards coming on the offensive end and leading to 13 second-chance points.
The Cru will close out its five-game home stand with two more ASC West Division showdowns next week. UMHB will host McMurry University for a 7:30 PM start on Thursday night before hosting Hardin-Simmons University for a 4:00 Pm tip-off on Saturday.