The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor team used clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch and tough defense in the final seconds to hold off Southwestern University in a 79-78 victory over the Pirates Saturday evening in Belton. Both teams move to 1-1 on the season following the decision.
UMHB held a seven-point lead at 75-68 after Braden Hammond hit a jumper with 3:55 left to play in the game. Southwestern chipped away and took a 78-77 lead on Ben Stiver’s jump shot with 21 second remaining. The Cru would play for a final shot and Daniel Mills was fouled on a drive to the hoop with six seconds to play. He calmly sank both free throws to give UMHB a 79-78 lead. The Cru defense battled away a pass with 1.7 seconds to go and Ryan Ogden’s desperation three-pointer at the final buzzer bounced off the rim and into the hands of the Cru’s Austen Stolte.
Southwestern led 40-39 at halftime after a first half that featured three ties and five lead changes. The second half was more of the same with two ties and seven lead changes as both teams fought back whenever it seemed like one team might be on the verge of taking control.
Mills led all scorers with 23 points for UMHB and he added nine rebounds. Hammond scored 15 points before fouling out and Avery Polchinski added 10 off the bench. Stolte pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds. UMHB shot 40 percent from the field and went 20-26 from the free-throw line.
Chris Molina topped the Pirates with 20 points. Zach Whitlock had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Ogden added 13 points and 10 boards. Southwestern shot 39 percent from the field and went 11-33 from three-point range. The Pirates committed 14 turnovers while UMHB only committed nine turnovers in the victory.
The Cru will hit the road for a pair of games next week. UMHB will take on Schreiner University in a 7:00 PM start on Tuesday in Kerrville. The Cru will then travel to San Antonio to face Trinity University in a 3:00 PM start next Sunday.