The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s basketball team had a chance to win or tie the game in the final seconds but were denied on a costly turnover as the Cru fell to East Texas Baptist 86-82 in the opening round of the American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament Thursday in Alpine. The loss ends UMHB’s season at 17-9. The Tigers improve to 20-6 on the year with the victory.
Both teams built seven point leads in the first half before the Cru closed out the opening 20 minutes when a Kendal Little lay-up for a 40-35 lead at the break. UMHB would take its largest lead of the game at 49-40 with 16:51 left in the game. The Cru would take it back out to a nine-point advantage at 77-68 with 5:03 remaining, but ETBU fought back to within 81-80 with 1:02 to go as Darrice Whitley scored six consecutive points. UMHB missed a pair of free throws before Whitley hit a lay-in with 38 seconds on the clock to give the Tigers an 82-81 lead. Brian Long hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 82-82 with 28 seconds to play. A Cru foul sent Whitley to the line, where he hit a pair to put ETBU up 84-82 with nine seconds remaining. UMHB turned the ball over at mid-court on the ensuing possession and was forced to foul again. Robby Dooley would make both shot to ice the victory with 1.9 seconds to play.
Demarius Cress and LaKendric Hyson led the Cru with 20 points apiece and Long added 18. Long and Hyson also pulled down seven rebounds apiece. UMHB shot 44 percent from the field and went 6-18 from three-point range in the loss. The Cru also missed 11 free throws, finishing 24-35 from the stripe in the contest. UMHB also allowed 20 second-chance points as the Tigers pulled down 22 offensive rebounds.
Whitley topped ETBU with 32 points and Landin Brown had 16 points and ten rebounds. Dooley also reached double figures with 13 points. The Tigers shot 38 percent from the field as a team and went 7-26 from beyond the arc. ETBU out rebounded the Cru 50-44 and took 86 total shots from the field compared to UMHB’s 59 field goal attempts.
The loss closes out the careers of three UMHB seniors. Justin Gammill, Braden Hammond and Aubrie King. ETBU advances to the ASC Semifinals to face the LeTourneau University-Howard Payne University winner at 5:00 PM on Friday.