By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - The Mary Hardin-Baylor men showed head coach Ken DeWeese the spark he was looking for early in Saturday's game against Sul Ross State.
The Cru scored 26 of the game's first 30 points, forced 23 turnovers and routed the Lobos 90-56 at the Mayborn Campus Center.
The Cru showed glimpses of a spark in the second half Wednesday in their win over Howard Payne, but Saturday's fire started fast and was out of control after just the first 10 minutes of the game.
"It was definitely a carryover, and the second part of that is just being mentally prepared," said Marlon Miller, who scored all 20 of his points for the Cru in the first half. "Offensive execution is something we want, but, like always, it starts on defense. So, actually, we just got out and ran."
Miller, a Belton graduate, hit four 3-pointers, including a game-opening one just eights seconds into the first half. Thomas Orr scored a team-high 22 points off the bench and the Cru (18-1, 14-1 American Southwest Conference) collected 14 steals to win their second straight game since having their undefeated start spoiled last Saturday against McMurry.
"I think it was a re-focus thing. I think it was a reconstitution of what we were trying to do," DeWeese said of the team's Saturday effort.
"We started this Oct. 15. It is now the end of January, that's a long time. ... Nobody goes steadily up. It's like the stock market, it's up and down," DeWeese added. "I've been impressed with these guys because they've been able to ride the down wave and then get back up. Where are we now? Are we up, are we leveling off? I don't know."
Mary Hardin-Baylor hit its four shots for a 10-2 lead less than 3 minutes into the game, but completely shell-shocked the Lobos midway through the half when the Cru forced seven turnovers and scored 11 straight points to take a 26-4 lead on a fastbreak layup by Miller.
"Coach was telling us after the McMurry and Howard Payne games that we need to pick up full court, not let them pass it in and do what they want. So we were just getting up on them and whatever they did," Todd said.
The Lobos (5-14, 5-10 ASC) cut the deficit to 31-18 on a pair of free throws from Bralyn Thomas, who led the Lobos with 22 points, with 5:28 to go in the first half. But Orr and Miller hit a combined five 3-pointers in a 17-5 run that gave UMHB a 50-23 lead at halftime.
Orr hit five 3s, Miller hit four and the Cru, as a team, shot 55 percent from the behind the arc (11-of-20).
"I think if you make it, it's really important," DeWeese said of 3s in the college game. "I think if you miss it, it's really important. It's good if you can make it, but it's just another shot, just counts a little more. I think if you make one down inside in that little bitty circle that we put down now, I think that ought to be three points."
Mary Hardin-Baylor women 86, Sul Ross State 61 - Cortney Poncik hit six 3-pointers, Brittany Zamora scored her 1,000th-career point and the Mary Hardin-Baylor women scored a season-high 86 points for their third win this season.
Poncik shot 6-of-6 from behind the arc and 8-of-9 from the floor for a team-high 22 points and the Cru (3-16, 2-13 American Soutwest Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak with their largest win since an 87-50 win also over the Lobos on Feb. 5, 2011.
Zamora, a senior who transferred to UMHB from Howard Payne before the 2010-11 season, finished with 10 points in the win and scored her 1,000th career point on a jumper with 4:23 left that gave the Cru a 76-52 lead.
Krista Ford, who led Sul Ross (2-17, 1-14 ASC) with 29 points, scored 12 of the Lobos' first 15 points but it wasn't enough to snap their losing streak which now stands at 12.
The two teams combined for 11 3-pointers in the first half, and the Cru led 42-32 at halftime, but Poncik was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, including three 3-pointers, in the second half as the Lobos shot less than 30 percent from the floor and 2-of-14 from behind the arc.