BELTON — In need of victories to keep from falling further back early in their respective conference races, the Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s and women’s teams bowed their necks Thursday night against Texas-Dallas.
Justin Gammill had a double-double to help the Crusaders overcome a 13-point first-half deficit en route to an 85-75 victory, and the Lady Crusaders limited the Comets to 24-percent shooting in a 61-54 win at Mayborn Campus Center.
Coming off last week’s 0-2 road trip to begin American Southwest Conference play, the Crusaders (5-3, 1-2 ASC) got 17 points and 11 rebounds from Gammill while getting back on track.
“This was must-win, no doubt, 100 percent,” said Gammill, a 6-foot-6 senior wing. “Everyone kind of knew coming in that this was a game we had to have. We’re resilient.”
UTD (4-3, 2-1) led by as many as 13 in the first half but couldn’t hold down UMHB. The Crusaders grabbed their first lead on a pair of LaKendric Hyson free throws with 3:11 left before halftime and led for all but 15 seconds the rest of the way.
UMHB stretched its advantage to 55-42 on a Gammill bucket at the 16:04 mark of the second half and was still up by 13 with 13:05 remaining before going on a 6-minute scoreless drought that enabled UTD to go on top 60-59.
A 3-pointer Ryan Lang snapped the Crusaders’ offensive skid, and a three-point play by Demarius Cress 15 seconds later gave the Crusaders a 65-60 lead with 6:45 to go. The Comets never got any closer.
“When you start off conference on the road and you start off 0-2 and then you come home, you’d better win that one,” said UMHB coach Ken DeWeese, whose team hosts Southwestern on Sunday afternoon. “(UTD) was extremely efficient early but we just kept playing and got back in it.”
Sam Moore also had 17 points, Braden Hammond added 12, Aubrie King 11, and Hyson and Lang 10 each for the Crusaders, who shot 54 percent from 3-point range and overall.
Dimitrius Underwood scored 16 points to lead five players in double figures for the Comets.
The Lady Crusaders (5-2, 2-1) heated up in the third quarter to grab the lead and held the Comets (5-2, 2-1) at bay the rest of the way. Kendall Rollins’ 3-pointer at the 8:58 mark of the third put UMHB on top for the first time since midway through the first quarter, and her three-point play 5 minutes later extended the Lady Crusaders’ lead to 36-30.
“In the third quarter, it was better execution and it was because we stuck our nose in there and rebounded. That was the biggest thing. That and controlling the tempo were the biggest turning points,” UMHB coach Mark Morefield said. “We need to play where our inside game opens up our outside game.”
UTD never got closer than four points in the fourth, and a 3 by UMHB senior point guard Meghan Turner in the last minute put the final dagger in the Comets.
Rollins, a sophomore guard, scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half, and guard Hannah Holt — a sophomore transfer from East Texas Baptist — had 13 of her game-high 20 in the first half for the Lady Crusaders, who were 15-of-28 from the field in the second half and shot 47 percent overall.
Throughout a first half in which neither team lit it up — UTD shot 29 percent from the floor, and UMHB 39 percent — the Comets took a 24-22 lead into the locker room on the strength of its rebounding. UTD dominated the first-half glass for a 29-13 advantage on the boards that included 14 rebounds on the offensive end. The Lady Crusaders trailed by seven points midway through the second quarter before scoring the final five points of the half.
“Our first-half effort was horrible,” said Morefield, whose team hosts Southwestern for a non-conference game Sunday afternoon. “We did not have the effort we needed to, especially when they had 14 offensive rebounds to our 13 total rebounds.”
McKenzie Petty and Victoria Pena scored 11 points apiece, and Kelley Skinner added 10 for the Comets, who finished with 24 offensive rebounds but shot only 24 percent from the field.