BELTON Texas Lutheran wanted to be the pusher.
It was no surprise, either, for the eighth-ranked and undefeated Mary Hardin-Baylor men's basketball team.
The Cru did not retaliate, they responded. "A lot teams like coming out strong on us just to prove a point that they're going to be there and they're not scared of us. But, they usually get tired on defense or don't do anything on offense and they end up giving out because we're stronger mentally," said Cru junior wing Brian Todd.
Mary Hardin-Baylor used a 17-4 run early in the first half to take a comfortable lead and maintained its composure in the second half when the game got "chippy" for a 74-53 win over Texas Lutheran on Saturday at the Mayborn Campus Center.
"I understand it, you say, 'Hey, these guys are ranked, these guys are undefeated, we've got to go out and be physical with them and body up them and push them and shove them," Cru coach Ken DeWeese said. "Yeah, it's probably a good coaching tactic, it's just a ploy and I think it's probably pretty effective most of the time.
"I try to get onto (our players) about other things to get their minds off of it so if I can have their minds on listening to me and putting up with my crap, then maybe they won't get so involved in what other people are doing," DeWeese added.
The Cru (15-0, 11-0 American Southwest Conference) scored eight straight points to take a 12-5 lead after falling behind early. They then stretched their lead to 12 with a separate 9-4 run and held the Bulldogs without a field goal the final 10 minutes of the first half.
The two teams were whistled for a combined 32 fouls and shot 43 free throws in the second half and coaches had to rethink their strategies as players got into foul trouble and some of the infractions appeared to be getting more serious.
"Yes, we changed what we're doing on defense, we changed a lot of people too, because I was concerned it might get out of hand and we'd lose somebody for Thursday night," DeWeese said. "That was a concern in my mind because it looked like it was going that direction for a little bit."
Marlon Miller, a Belton graduate, hit three 3-pointers and scored a game-high 13 points to go along with a pair of assists and a pair of steals. Todd finished with 12 points and Sterling Phillips scored 10. Greg Weirnas added nine and three others chipped in eight.
Isaac Williams led TLU (6-9, 5-6 ASC) with 12 points and Jarell English and Michael Flores each scored 11. The Bulldogs were whistled for 29 personal fouls and were 20-of-30 from the free-throw line. The Cru were called for 23 fouls and hit 23-of-36 from the charity stripe.
UMHB women 70, Texas Lutheran 55 At Belton, Brittany Zamora scored 15 points in the second half, Carmen Maciel added 14 off the bench and the Cru women snapped an 11-game losing streak.
Zamora finished with a game-high 19 points for Mary Hardin-Baylor (2-13, 1-10 American Southwest Conference) and hit three 3-pointers in the second half as the Cru pulled away for their first win since their home-opening 68-57 win over Centenary (La.) on Nov. 26, 2011.
"It just feels so good. I swear, I just wanted to Tim Tebow it," Cru women's coach Kim Kirkpatrick-Thornton said. "It's just so hard when you lose and you feel like you're working hard and not getting the things out, so it just felt so good to finish.
"It just feels great. It doesn't feel like a relief to me, it just feels great."
Maciel and the Cru bench combined for 23 points and 17 of UMHB's 25 rebounds for a 33-25 lead at halftime, just the second time all season the Cru have led at the break.
Texas Lutheran (3-12, 2-8 ASC) cut the Cru's halftime lead to four, 33-29, with back-to-back layups to open the second half, but the Cru answered with a 9-3 run to take a 10-point lead. Zamora then hit her three 3s in a 3½-minute stretch that gave the Cru a 12-point lead and killed the Bulldogs' last rally attempt.
Miranda Shorter finished with 11 points and reserve small post Ashlee Adams had four steals to go along with four points and nine rebounds. Katy Scott scored 13 points to lead Texas Lutheran (3-12, 2-8 ASC), which lost its seventh straight game.