BELTON, Texas -- Mary Hardin-Baylor built a double-digit first-half lead and then withstood several Texas-Dallas rallies as the Cru posted an 86-77 victory against the Comets in the opening round of the NCAA Division III tournament Thursday night in Belton.

UMHB improves to 22-7 on the season with the victory and the Cru moves into the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history. The loss ends the Comets season at 21-7 overall.

UMHB opened the game with a 13-2 run to build a double-digit lead just 5:01 into the game. The Comets stormed back and cut the lead to 15-14 and the game would be tied at 30 with 4:42 remaining in the first half. The Cru would answer by closing the half with a 14-4 run to take a 44-34 halftime lead. UMHB pushed the lead to 13 early in the second half before the Comets mounted another run. Kyle Schleigh’s lay-up pulled UTD to within six points at 51-45 with 14:04 remaining in the game. UMHB would stretch it back to 59-47 on Dean Pele’s three-pointer with 12:12 left.

UTD would cut it to three points at 64-61 with 6:50 on the clock, but UMHB scored six straight points to take the lead back to nine points. After a pair of Brandon Greene free-throws cut it to seven, Marlon Miller hit a jumper and Pele added another three to make it an 11-point lead. The Comets would not get closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Marlon Miller led the Cru with 26 points and he added seven rebounds. Miller also hit 5-of-10 from three-point range. Robert Moore had a double-double for UMHB with 17 points and 12 rebounds and Sterling Phillips and Pele added 13 points apiece for the Cru. Phillips also chipped in with a game-high eight assists.

Greene topped Texas-Dallas with 21 points and he hit 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. Chris Barnes scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds and Schleigh and Curtis Davis added 14 points each.

UMHB shot 63 percent from the field in the first half and went 6-of-7 from three-point range. The Cru finished at 56 percent from the floor and 11-of-19 from long distance in the win. The Comets shot 40 percent from the field and went 10-of-28 from three-point range.

The Cru now moves into the Second Round of the NCAA Division III tournament and will face another American Southwest Conference rival McMurry Saturday in Abilene at 7:00 p.m. CT.

UMHB and McMurry will be playing for fourth time this season. The two teams split their two regular season meetings and McMurry topped UMHB 72-65 in the ASC Championship game last Sunday. The Cru’s win against UTD is the third this season.

UMHB is playing in its fourth NCAA Tournament in the last five years. UTD was making its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA postseason.