BELTON — Mary Hardin-Baylor raced to a 20-point halftime lead, momentarily took its foot off the gas midway through the second half, then re-accelerated to drive past Sul Ross State for a 90-68 victory Saturday afternoon in an American Southwest Conference women’s basketball matchup at Mayborn Campus Center.
The win was the 13th in the last 14 outings for the Lady Crusaders (17-3, 10-2), who own a one-game lead in the ASC West Division and can turn their sights to Thursday night’s home showdown with second-place McMurry. It was the War Hawks who snapped UMHB’s 10-game win streak with a 68-63 victory on Jan. 13 in Abilene.
“I won’t have to say much of anything to our players because this McMurry game will be easy to get up for,” UMHB coach Mark Morefield said. “Our girls are motivated by the fact that we should have beaten them. We know we were off that day, and the accountability level on this team is very high.”
UMHB held a 20-point lead at intermission after a first half in which Sul Ross State shot only 23 percent from the field and was outrebounded 31-15.
The Lady Crusaders owned their first double-digit advantage after two Kendall Rollins free throws at the 4:11 mark of the first quarter, and they were up 24-11 following 3-pointers by Addison Floyd and Hailey Celsur in the final minute of the period. The first-half gap ballooned to as many as 24 points when Alicia Blackwell hit three 3s in a 4½-minute span of the second, before UMHB settled for a 43-23 lead at the break.
The Lady Lobos (6-14, 4-8) worked the margin down to 11 points on an Annie Lenoir 3 less than 2 minutes into the fourth, before Rollins hit a 3 and scored on a slashing move to the basket to ignite a 17-3 Lady Crusaders run that pushed their lead out of reach for good.
Rollins went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc for part of her 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Blackwell was 4-of-5 from long range on her way to 14 points. Hannah Holt and Haven Neal added 11 points each as UMHB posted its largest offensive output since a 91-73 victory over Texas Lutheran in the season opener back in November.
“I thought our shot selection was better today. We weren’t rushing shots. We let the offense come to us and moved the ball to create shots,” Morefield said. “We’ve talked about not shooting the ball so early in the shot clock. We want to penetrate and pitch and get higher-percentage shots.”
Lenoir drained eight of her 17 3-point attempts and finished with a game-high 29 points for the Lady Lobos, who got 12 points from Angalyn Latin.
UMHB’s five-game homestand wraps up with two contests this week, starting Thursday night against McMurry, which has won three straight against the Lady Crusaders.
“We definitely want to beat them. It’s an ongoing thing because I’ve never beaten them,” Rollins said. “We definitely did not play to the best of our abilities the last time we played them. We’re too good of a team to lose a game like that.”