By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
Calm, cool, collected.
That was the epitome of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s basketball team down the stretch.
The Crusaders erased an eight-point deficit in the final two minutes and hit big shots down the stretch as UMHB posted a 74-69 victory over Schreiner University Monday night at the Mayborn Campus Center.
UMHB improved to 3-2 on the year with the victory. The loss drops the Mountaineers to 2-5 on the year.
Schreiner held UMHB scoreless for the first 3:25 of the game and roared out to a 20-8 lead midway through the first half.
The Cru battled back to within two points on several occasions before the Mountaineers took a 29-23 lead into halftime.
UMHB closed to within two points on multiple possessions early in the second half, but Schreiner had an answer for each of those runs.
The Cru stormed back from a sluggish first half to take its first lead of the game at 51-50 on Avery Polchinski’s jumper with 7:34 remaining in the game. Schreiner quickly retook the lead and used a 17-8 run to push that advantage to 67-59 with 1:54 left.
Daniel Mills hit a jumper and combined with Shon Lewis to hit three free throws to pull UMHB to within 67-64 with 1:01 on the clock.
Two Schreiner free throws gave the Mountaineers a five-point lead, 69-64, 58 seconds left.
Demarius Cress buried a long-range three-pointer with 53 seconds remaining and followed a Schreiner turnover with a three-point play to put the Cru up 70-69 with 34 seconds to go.
Another Schreiner turnover led to two Mills free throws to make it 72-69 Cru. Schreiner missed two free throws on its next possession and Lewis iced it with a pair of freebies with 3.8 to go in the game.
Cress led UMHB with 15 points and he was 3-of-7 behind the three-point line. Russell Green and Sidney Deloach added 13 points and 10 rebounds apiece and Lewis also had 13 points off the bench for the Cru.
UMHB shot 27 percent from the field in the first half but finished at 37 percent for the game. The Cru was 7-of-29 from three-point range and hit 19-of-27 from the free-throw line.
Wes Miller had 15 points to lead Schreiner and had nine of those points within a 1:58 window of the second half, but had a costly turnover and missed two free throws in the final seconds. Dustin Bercutt had 14 points before fouling out for the Mountaineers and Christian Pena added eight points and a team-high eight rebounds. Schreiner shot 38 percent from the floor as a team and went 8-of-26 from three-point range.
The Cru men will return to action with a non-conference game against Alma College this Saturday. The game tips off at 3:00 PM as part of the Trinity University Holiday Tournament in San Antonio.
UMHB will then be off until December 27th when the Cru will play three games in four days in Las Vegas at the D3hoops.com Classic.