BELTON, Texas – Clutch free-throw shooting made the difference in the final seconds as the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s basketball team outlasted Concordia Texas 104-101 Saturday in Belton. The Cru takes over sole possession of first place in the American Southwest Conference West Division with the victory and also claims the season tie-breaker over Concordia. UMHB improves to 18-5 overall and 9-5 in ASC with the win. The Tornados fall to 10-13 overall and 8-6 in the ASC with the loss.
The Cru led 99-91 with 2:54 left to play, but Concordia battled back to within 100-99 with 1:08 to go. Joe Neal hit two free throws to put the Tornados up 101-100. The two teams traded turnovers before LaKendric Hyson hit a pair from the stripe to give UMHB a 102-101 lead with 20.9 seconds on the clock. Another foul sent the Cru back to line, but two misses and a foul would send Detarrius Kirk to the free-throw line with 6.3 seconds remaining. Kirk missed both free throws and Hyson pulled down the rebound. Hyson buried both free-throw attempts after a quick Tornado foul to make it a three-point game and Philip Meikle’s potential game-tying three was off the mark at the final buzzer. UMHB led by as many as 11 points in the first half before Concordia fought back to tie it at 44. Demarius Cress drilled a long-range three-pointer at the first-half buzzer to make it 47-44 Cru at halftime.
Sam Moore hit 4-6 from three-point range and 7-10 shots overall to lead UMHB with 23 points. Cress hit 5-7 from beyond the arc and finished with 22 points. Hyson had 17 points, Mike Davis scored 12 and Brian Long chipped in 10 for the Cru. UMHB shot 55 percent from the field as a team and went 12-18 from three-point range. The Cru out rebounded the Tornados 39-31 and went 30-44 from the free-throw line.
Neal and Meikle had 37 points apiece for Concordia and Meikle was 8-17 from beyond the arc. Maluw Deng had eight points for the Tornados. Concordia shot 46 percent from the field and went 14-40 from long-range. The two teams combined for 65 fouls and 74 free-throws in a tough, physical contest.
UMHB will close out the regular season with a pair of home games next week. The Cru will host Sul Ross State on Thursday before welcoming Howard Payne University to the Mayborn Campus Center on Saturday. UMHB has already clinched a berth in the ASC Championship Tournament, to be played at the site of the ASC East Division champion.