By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - What's Mary Hardin-Baylor men's basketball coach Ken DeWeese asking for from Santa Claus for Christmas?
For Dec. 27 to arrive as quickly as possible.
That's when his sixth-ranked Crusaders return to the court following Saturday's 84-71 win over Louisiana College. UMHB plays its next game Dec. 29 in the Concordia University Christmas Tournament. Until then, DeWeese can only hope his team's start - the No. 6 Crusaders moved to 8-0 (6-0 American Southwest Conference) on the year - doesn't hit a speed bump with the break.
"There's never a good time for this," he said. "I'm just going to be miserable until they get back. I'm going to make my wife miserable, I'm going to make my family miserable, I'm going to make everybody around me miserable, because I'm going to be miserable.
"I just hate it. I'm not so sure Christ was born on Dec. 25. I sure wish it would have been July 1."
The break is usually seen depending on how a team is performing at that moment. A struggling team welcomes a chance to get away from the court, just as one that's dealing with injuries. But on the other end are teams like UMHB, which only has two wins by less than 10 points.
On Saturday, UMHB and the Wildcats (4-3, 4-2) were tied with 7:30 to play and the Crusaders led 62-59 with just over five minutes left.
After Louisiana College cut the deficit to three points, Marlon Miller was fouled on a reverse layup, making the circus shot and ensuing free throw to double the lead.
That started a 22-12 run to end the game. Derrick Gardner followed Miller with a pair of foul shots, but the four-point deficit was as close as the Wildcats got.
Miller and Sterling Phillips scored 18 of the final 22 points, with Miller's 34 points nearly matching the career-high 36 he put up Thursday. Greg Wiernas, who added 12 points, had nine rebounds - seven on the offensive end.
"There were a few times down there where it got extremely physical and he gets nothing," DeWeese said of Wiernas not always getting fouls called in his favor. "It doesn't matter what happens to him. They just look at him like, 'Well, you should have fouled out.'"
UMHB's 39-31 rebounding edge and a defense that forced 20 turnovers helped deny LC any rally attempt. The Wildcats went multiple possessions between points in the final minutes, keeping UMHB on its high going into the break.
"By the time we play that tournament at Concordia - by the time we play that second game, (the break) will be a distant memory," DeWeese said. "But between now and Dec. 27, I'm going to be miserable."