(February 20, 2014) The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s basketball team built a 17-point second half lead and then held off a Hardin-Simmons comeback bid with clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch as the Cru posted an 83-76 victory over the Cowboys Thursday night in Belton. UMHB improves to 16-8 overall and 14-7 in American Southwest Conference play with its seventh straight victory. The win, coupled with Concordia’s loss to U.T.-Dallas also moves the Cru into sole possession of third place in the ASC. Hardin-Simmons had its ten-game winning streak snapped and drops to 16-8 overall and 16-5 in the ASC on the year.
The Cru led by as many as eight points in a first-half that featured four ties and three lead changes, but Derrick Jefferson’s three-pointer with five seconds left cut it to 33-29 UMHB at the half. James Allen hit a three to open the second half scoring and the Cru used a 13-2 run to take a 15-point lead at the 15:57 mark. The lead would grow to 65-48 with 9:51 remaining as Allen hit five threes in that span. The Cowboys started to chip away and closed to within six at 75-69 with 1:31 left to play. Allen hit two free throws before another Jefferson three closed the gap to 77-72. Antonie Chaney added two free throws to make it a seven-point game and the Cowboys never got closer than five points the rest of the way.
Allen finished with a game-high 27 points to lead the Cru and he hit 5-8 from three-point range. Kitrick Bell added 18 points and a game-best 10 rebounds and Chaney also poured in 18 for UMHB. The Cru shot 63 percent from the field in the second half and hit 6-9 from beyond the arc after halftime. UMHB finished the game at 48 percent and out rebounded the Cowboys 41-29 in the victory.
Jefferson led HSU with 25 points and seven rebounds on 9-13 shooting. Charles Sams added 15 points off the bench, all of them on three-pointers and John Barnes and Titus Mims chipped in 13 points apiece. The Cowboys shot 41 percent from the field and went 11-29 from three-point range in the game.
The Cru will close out the regular season with a 3:00 PM tip-off against ASC regular season champion U.T.-Dallas on Saturday. The UMHB men have already clinched a berth in next weekend’s ASC Championship Tournament, but seeding will not be finalized until the bracket is announced next Tuesday. The ASC Tournament will be played February 28-March 2nd on the campus of UTD in Richardson.