The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men's basketball team erased an early double-digit deficit and then held on in the final seconds as the Cru knocked off Sul Ross State 79-78 Thursday night in Alpine. UMHB improves to 17-7 overall and 10-6 in American Southwest Conference play with the victory. The loss drops the Lobos to 18-6 overall and 13-3 in the ASC on the season.
Sul Ross State opened the game with an 18-6 run and would lead by 13 points halfway through the opening half. The Cru battled back to within 37-32 at the half. UMHB really caught fire midway through the second half and took a 72-59 lead on Aubrie King's three-pointer with 5:21 remaining in the game. The Lobos used their own comeback to close to within 78-76 on a Tristen Licon three-pointer with eight seconds to go. Demarius Cress hit one of two free throws at the other end to make it a 79-76 Cru lead. UMHB fouled Licon on a three-point shot attempt with one second left, but he missed the first shot and made the final two as the Cru escaped with the victory.
Brian Long had a huge night for UMHB, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Long was 7-9 from the field and 5-5 from the free-throw line. LaKendric Hyson added 17 points and six rebounds for the Cru and Cress and King chipped in 12 points apiece. UMHB shot 58 percent from the field in the second half and was 5-9 from three-point range in the final 20 minutes. The Cru shot 49 percent from the field for the game and was 7-19 from beyond the arc. UMHB was 22-29 from the stripe and out rebounded the Lobos 37-31 in the victory.
Licon had 19 points off the bench for Sul Ross and he hit 3-5 from three-point range. B.J. Hollis also scored 19 points and Caleb Thomasson added 12 points as each of those players pulled down seven boards. The Lobos shot 42 percent from the field and hit 12-33 from three-point range as a team in the contest. It was Licon's banked-in three-pointer at the buzzer that gave SRSU a 97-95 victory over UMHB when the two teams met in Belton earlier this season.
The Cru will close out the regular season with a 4:00 PM tip-off at Howard Payne University in Brownwood on Saturday. UMHB has already clinched a berth in next week's ASC Championship Tournament in Alpine, but the Cru can lock up the West Division's #2 seed with a win over the Yellow Jackets.