SALEM, Va. -– Mary Hardin-Baylor 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 St. Mary’s (Md.) 69-66 in the NCAA Division III quarterfinals Friday afternoon in Salem, Va. The Cru moves on to the 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 Championship.
The Cru fell behind 48-38 with 14:14 left in the game before cutting the gap to 51-50 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 3-pointer to tie the game at 62 with 3:02 remaining. The Seahawks would score at the other end, but Meals swished a 3 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 3-pointer 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 3-point range in the loss.
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.