BELTON — Mary Hardin-Baylor made up its mind to attack the basket in the closing minutes, and the Lady Crusaders finished on a 14-2 run to pull away for a 79-67 victory over Louisiana College on Thursday night at Mayborn Campus Center.
The closing surge put a cap on the eighth straight win for UMHB (12-2, 5-1 American Southwest Conference), which hasn’t lost since a 66-56 defeat at East Texas Baptist on Dec. 2.
“Our team has a sense of resiliency. That’s the biggest thing,” Lady Crusaders coach Mark Morefield said.
A free throw by LC’s Zharian Maxmillion forged a 65-all tie with 5:37 remaining, before UMHB took control by continually getting to the basket.
Driving buckets by Kendall Rollins and Brooke Elliott started the Lady Crusaders’ game-ending run that was interrupted only momentarily by wide-bodied center Brooke Jones’ basket with 2:56 to go. The Wildcats (6-5, 2-3) never scored again, and UMHB used a three-point play from Alicia Blackwell and a Rollins layup to help close out the victory.
“There were times early when there were gaps for us to drive but we settled for jump shots,” Morefield said. “We have to do a better job of attacking because not many people in this conference can guard us when we put the ball down and drive to the rim. Let’s do what makes us, us. Let’s get to the rim and attack.”
Jones had a team-high 19 points for LC, which got 14 from RyDeja McQuarn and 12 from Kourtney McGhee but was outrebounded 52-31.
Hannah Holt had a double-double for UMHB, scoring 20 of her 24 points in the first half and finishing with 10 rebounds. Rollins added 14 points and Blackwell chipped in 11 for the Lady Crusaders, who were only 3-of-20 from 3-point range but shot 51 percent from inside the arc.
“Coach never lets us slack off, and we’re never going to back down,” Holt said. “Teams are going to go on runs against us, but we’re going to come together and get it done. We’re not going to back down from a fight, and we’re hungry to win more games.”
UMHB made only one of its first nine shot attempts but made up for it by grabbing 10 offensive rebounds in the first quarter, and Ashley Caldwell’s two free throws gave the Lady Crusaders’ a double-digit lead with 31 seconds left in the opening period.
The Wildcats battled back in the second quarter, putting together a 14-2 run to turn an 11-point deficit into a 31-30 advantage less than 4 minutes into the second and it was neck-and-neck for the remainder of the half. Holt’s 1-for-2 trip to the foul line with 8 seconds to go before intermission broke a 41-all tie and sent UMHB into the break with a one-point edge.
Two buckets by Rollins and a Meghan Turner 3-pointer put the Lady Crusaders up by eight in the opening minutes of the third, and they owned a 61-58 lead heading into the fourth.
The Lady Crusaders finish their two-game homestand at 2 p.m. Saturday against Belhaven.