SALEM, VA (March 22, 2013) -- The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s basketball team did not want the dance to end and down the stretch the Cru refused to lose and made program and conference history in the process. UMHB rallied from a double-digit second half deficit to knock off the College of St. Mary’s of Maryland 69-66 in the NCAA Division III National Quarterfinals Friday afternoon in Salem, Virginia. The Cru moves on to the National Semifinals for the first time in program history and UMHB is the first team from the American Southwest Conference or the state of Texas to advance to the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball National Championships.
The Cru fell behind 48-38 with 14:14 left in the game before cutting the gap to 51-50 following behind four points apiece from Kitrick Bell, Sidney Deloach and Thomas Orr. St. Mary’s pushed it back to six points at 60-54 with 4:49 left to play. Bell converted a three-point play, Cory Meals hit a jumper and Layton Zinsmeister buried a three to tie the game at 62 with 3:02 remaining. The Seahawks would score at the other end, but Meals swished a three to give the Cru the lead for good at 65-64 with 2:19 on the clock. Brian Todd’s dunk stretched the lead to three, but Brandon McFall’s put-back closed the gap to 67-66 with 1:18 left. St. Mary’s turned the ball over with nine seconds to play and Orr hit two free throws to give UMHB a 69-66 edge. St. Mary’s had one final shot, but a three was way off the mark at the buzzer, setting off a wild celebration on the UMHB bench.
The Cru was cold in the first half, hitting just 31 percent from the field. The Seahawks built a six-point halftime lead at 32-26 with Orr’s shooting keeping UMHB within range. Orr had 12 of the Cru’s 26 first-half points.
Orr finished with a game-high 26 points and he added eight rebounds. Bell posted a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds and Meals also scored 15. UMHB shot 50 percent from the field in the second half and finished at 41 percent for the game. The two teams pulled down 40 rebounds each and combined for just 14 turnovers.
James Davenport led St. Mary’s with 16 points and Troy Spurrier came off the bench to score 14. The Seahawks shot just 42 percent from the field and were just 6-25 from three-point range in the loss.
UMHB will now face the University of St. Thomas (MN) in a 5:00 PM Central Time (6:00 PM Eastern) semifinal game. The winner of that contest will advance to the NCAA Division III National Championship Game on April 7th at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The Cru moves to 26-5 on the season and also ties the school single record for wins in a year. The loss ends the Seahawks season at 27-4.