Still in first

UMHB’s Aubrie Elliott (45) shoots against McMurry’s Skyler Reyna during Thursday night’s game in Belton.

Michael Miller

BELTON — Mary Hardin-Baylor heated up Thursday night to produce a dish that’s best served cold: revenge.

Hannah Holt scored a game-high 30 points, and the Lady Crusaders received a degree of atonement with a 94-77 victory over McMurry at Mayborn Campus Center.

A little more than two weeks after having its 10-game win streak snapped with a 68-63 loss to the War Hawks in Abilene, UMHB (18-3, 11-2 American Southwest Conference) led for all but 52 seconds Thursday to pull two games ahead of McMurry (11-9, 9-4) in the chase for the ASC West Division title.

“We had a chip on our shoulder. We don’t like losing,” said Holt, a sophomore guard. “We wanted to come out and show them who we really are.”

Holt was 10-of-13 from the field and 10-of-15 from the foul line as the Lady Crusaders shot 53 percent overall. Kendall Rollins went 6-for-18 from the floor on her way to 17 points, and Alicia Blackwell scored 11 of her 16 points from the stripe.

“We were very focused and ready to play them. I was super ready,” Holt said. “I didn’t give them my best the first time we played them. Today, I did.”

McMurry’s only lead of the night came just a minute into the opening quarter and was short-lived.

Holt scored eight of UMHB’s first 12 points as the Lady Crusaders steadily pulled away. Meghan Turner’s 3-pointer at the 3:02 mark of the first gave them their first double-digit advantage, and Blackwell’s 3 about 90 seconds later pushed the gap to 22-7.

Haven Neal hit a baseline jumper for a 21-point UMHB lead with 3:04 left in the second, and the Lady Crusaders were up 49-23 at halftime. They shot 49 percent from the floor and turned over the ball only three times through the first 20 minutes, when they forced 12 McMurry turnovers and limited the War Hawks to 29 percent shooting.

UMHB stretched the lead to as many as 33 points just 2½ minutes into the third quarter, at which point emotions boiled over on the War Hawks bench, and McMurry assistant coach Will Sherman was whistled for a technical foul. The War Hawks chipped away at the margin — helped by 15 second-half turnovers by the Lady Crusaders — and got as close as 15 points midway through the fourth.

“One of the things we still have to learn as a young team is that we can’t relax. We came out with good energy. Then we got up by 30 and it was like, let’s just go ahead and get giddy,” UMHB coach Mark Morefield said. “We’ve seen tougher presses than that and beat it. This was us still learning that you have to stay sharp, which can be hard to do when you’re up 30 and everything’s going your way.”

Skyler Reyna had a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds, and Sham Hunter added 19 points for McMurry, which had won the teams’ last three meetings.

The Lady Crusaders have won 14 of their last 15 games and close out their home schedule Saturday afternoon against Hardin-Simmons before wrapping up the regular season with three contests on the road.

“This was good because the more wins we get, the closer we are to clinching (the West Division title). That’s the important thing,” Morefield said. “We don’t want the West to come down to the last game of the year.”

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