UMHB Press Release:
APLINE, Texas – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor women’s basketball team controlled the game early and then held on late to stun the #2 team in the country and win its second consecutive American Southwest Conference Championship as the Cru topped East Texas Baptist 75-72 in the ASC title game Monday night in Alpine. UMHB, the #4 seed from the West Division, improves to 13-8 with the victory and makes it back-to-back ASC titles. The loss ends ETBU’s season at 25-1.
UMHB led by five points going into the final period and stretched the lead out to seven in the early going. The Tigers pulled back to within three before the Cru gained some separation. Hannah Eggleston’s jumper made it an eight-point game with 5:24 remaining. ETBU wrapped three-pointers around another Eggleston basket to cut UMHB’s lead to 63-59 with 4:33 left to play. The Cru pushed it back to a seven-point lead with 3:12 to go on an A’Lexiss Benton free throw. The UMHB lead bounced back and forth between five and seven points until two free-throws and a Mycah McDonald lay-up pulled East Texas Baptist to within 72-69 with 1:14 on the clock. Taylor Kollmorgen hit a free-throw to make it a two-possession contest. The Tigers hit a pair of free throws with 37.6 seconds to play to close the gap to 73-71. UMHB turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, but Benton pulled down the rebound for the Cru. Brooke Elliott hit two free throws to make it a four-point Cru lead and UMHB would hold on for the victory. The Cru shot 90 percent from the field in the final period.
ETBU opened the third quarter with a 14-3 run to cut the Cru lead to 38-37. Eggleston hit a jumper for UMHB to make it a three-point game again, but the Tigers came right back and took the lead at 41-40 with 4:47 left to play in the third quarter. The two teams traded the lead several times before Olivia Champion converted a three-point play with 43 seconds left in the third to put the Cru up 48-43 and it would stay that way going into the fourth period. It was UMHB’s turn to go cold in the third, hitting just 27 percent from the field and 1-7 three-point tries. ETBU shot 50 percent as a team in the third and was 2-4 from beyond the arc.
The Cru built a double-digit halftime lead on the back of a strong defensive effort in the opening 20 minutes. UMHB only face one deficit in the opening period as ETBU grabbed a 4-2 lead early. The Cru answered with a 7-1 run and held a 14-11 lead after the first quarter. UMHB started the second quarter with a 7-0 burst to push the lead into double figures and continued to clamp down on the Tigers. The Cru never let ETBU get closer than six points the rest of the period and held a 35-23 advantage at the break. UMHB held the Tigers to 22 percent shooting from the field in the opening half and ETBU was 0-7 from three-point range. The Cru hit 43 percent as a team and was 3-10 from beyond the arc. The Tigers had a huge 29-13 rebounding advantage in the first half, but UMHB’s defense forced 13 turnovers and only allowed ETBU to turn 12 offensive rebounds into seven second-chance points.
Eggleston finished 8-12 from the field to score a team-high 17 points for the Cru. Champion added 12 points and ten different players scored in a balanced UMHB attack. Eggleston and Taylor Kollmorgen led the Cru with five rebounds apiece. UMHB shot 47 percent from the field in the game and finished 5-18 from three-point range. The Cru forced 22 turnovers and only gave the ball away 12 times on the night. UMHB was 18-30 from the stripe in the win.
Mallory Stephens had a game-high 29 points to lead the Tigers. No other player had more than eight for East Texas Baptist in the game. ETBU shot 40 percent from the field and went 6-17 from beyond the arc. The Tigers also out rebounded UMHB 49-24 in the game, but gave up 32 points in the paint to the Cru.
Benton, Taylor Kollmorgen, and Eggleston were all named to the All-Tournament Team with Eggleston also winning Most Valuable Player honors. The UMHB women were making their fourth straight appearance in the ASC championship Game. The Cru knocked off the #1 seed from both ASC divisions on the way to the conference title. With no NCAA Tournament in Division III this season, the game also closes out the careers of UMHB seniors Brooke Elliott and Taylor Kollmorgen.