By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – For nearly the entire game, the Mary Hardin-Baylor men's basketball team was shooting just 50 percent from the free-throw line.
Meaning the Crusaders were missing one shot for every made attempt in Monday's American Southwest Conference game against Concordia University.
So the odds weren't in Ervin Johnson's favor as he stepped to the line with 1.6 seconds left to play and UMHB down a point to the Tornados. While a win seemed impossible, overtime was almost as unlikely.
But Johnson came through, stepping up just as he did earlier to help the Crusaders erase a 14-point deficit and, seconds before, in grabbing the rebound that eventual got him to the free-throw line.
Johnson hit both foul shots, sending UMHB to a come-from-behind, 79-78 win over Concordia at the Mayborn Campus Center.
"With Ervin on the line, I felt good about it," UMHB coach Ken DeWeese said. "If I'd have to chose one out of three or four and he'd been in it, I think I would have chosen him."
Concordia got one last chance, taking a timeout following Johnson's free throws to set up a full-court, long-pass play. The Tornados' Reza Farahani did get the pass to the other end of the floor, but Johnson deflected the ball and Justin Reefer couldn't get a shot off in time.
UMHB pulled to within a point seconds earlier when Dean Pele came off a screen and hit a long 3-pointer, his fourth of the game. He finished with 17 points – one of four Crusaders in double figures.
UMHB women 84, Concordia 51 – The Crusaders used a 24-0 run to erase an early 7-2 deficit and run away from Concordia for their fifth-straight win and seventh in eight games.
Concordia's Brianna Smith hit a 3-pointer with 18:26 left in the first half to put the Tornados up 7-2. Concordia didn't score again until a Skylar Lott layup roughly 12 minutes later.
"I was really proud of our girls who have been working on and are now not letting that stuff affect them – the getting down 7-2," UMHB coach Kim Kirkpatrick-Thornton said. "It used to and at one time would have affected us, but they did not change their mission. We were just consistent on both ends of the floor."
UMHB's run wasn't just offense – the Crusaders forced 23 turnovers. Offensively though, they shot 46.7 percent from the floor, which included 7-of-15 shooting from the 3-point line.
UMHB took advantage of a Concordia zone defense that left space on the perimeter. Numerous shots during the run, along with Deja Thomas' 3-pointer to cap the 24-point stretch, were medium-to-long-range shot attempts.