BELTON Just two years ago, Matt Addison, down on his luck, would ride his bike 45 minutes one way to shoot around during open gym at the Mayborn Campus Center.
Thursday, now a senior point guard at Hardin-Simmons, Addison sought to do the impossible and knock off Mary Hardin-Baylor on their home court. But not even 26 points from the former Harker Height standout could get it done as UMHB closed out the final 3:42 of the game on a 13-1 run to win 89-80 and clinch the American Southwest Conference's West Division in the process.
Of course the emotions were going, and it was a good experience to come back home and play but it was bittersweet experience, Addison said. UMHB has always been at the center of my heart when it comes to basketball but we made a couple of mistakes at the end and I'm not going to sit here and make excuses.
Addison scored 14 of his 26 points during a three-minute flurry early in the second half to pull Hardin-
Simmons ahead, but also gave up a costly turnover late as good friend and former Belton star Marlon Miller scored six of his team-high 22 points in the final 1:52 to cap the victory for the Cru (21-1, 17-1 ASC).
It was really us rebounding on the defensive end and just going, looking for the smartest shot we could take, Miller said.
Miller, who shot 11-of-12 from the charity stripe as UMHB shot 44 free throws, led six players in double figures, including 15 and 14 from Kitrick Bell and James Allen as the Cru shot 56 percent (14-of-25) from the floor in the second half.
We have a couple of guys that right now are playing outside of their rhythm, said longtime UMHB coach Ken DeWeese, but we have enough people that can kind of pick them up and make a difference.
Allen also added three steals, none bigger than the last when the sophomore guard picked the pocket of an unsuspecting Addison his second turnover in a span of 30 seconds.
After falling to the ground following contact on a missed layup with 2 ½ minutes left, Allen gathered himself as Addison was bringing the ball up court on the ensuing possession, tipping the ball from behind and gathering the turnover. Miller then converted a layup seconds later to put UMHB ahead 84-79 with 1:52 left.
UMHB has the craziest fans. I call it a.k.a Madison Square Garden' because it has the best fans ever, and I love playing here, but it's hard to hear anything if someone's calling wolf' or watch your back' because it's so loud, Addison explained. But that was a good play on (Allen's) part.
Averaging 28 points per game in 19 contests entering Thursday, Addison is the nation's second-leading scorer behind Lamonte Thomas of Johnson and Wales (RI), also a Division III program, who is averaging a robust 32.8 points per game.
Addison was a key spark for Hardin-Simmons (16-6, 3-5), accounted for 14 points of a 17-8 run during a three minute period between the 14:48-11:42 in the second half, including a string of 11 straight to put the Cowboys ahead 63-60.
Beginning with a putback of his own miss after drawing contact, Addison's personal run was highlighted by a rare four-point play when Miller knocked him down on an NBA-range 3-pointer.
I actually came into the game with a different mentality, I wanted to be more of a distributor but when I felt like we needed a push and we needed to get the score up, that's when I felt like it was my time to take over, Addison said.
He capped the run 30 seconds later with the last of his five 3's on the night, but only scored a pair of free throws in the final 10 minutes of the game as UMHB fought back.
Addison helped Hardin-Simmons build an early advantage, including nailing a 3-pointer 2:34 into the game and immediately tipping away the inbounds pass and spinning to the lane for a quick bucket 12 seconds later for a 7-2 lead.
UMHB women 83, Hardin-Simmons 79 At Belton, the Mary Hardin-Baylor women's basketball team stormed back from a huge first-half deficit and went on to stun Hardin-Simmons. Hardin-Simmons scored the game's first seven points and led 16-4 just 5:51 into the game. UMHB (5-17, 4-14 in American Southwest Conference) battled back to cut it to 45-37 at halftime. The Cru stretched the lead to six points before the Cowgirls (11-11, 9-9) closed to 81-79 on an Alexis
Popelar shot with 43 ticks left.
Brittany Zamora led UMHB with 20 points.