Cru falls in first round of tournament

Senior forward Damian Davis dunks the ball at the Feb. 24 ASC tournament game against Mississippi College. The Cru beat the Choctaws 75-63 at the Mayborn Campus Center. Photo by Brooke Morgan.

The men’s basketball team is ranked tenth in the nation, and during the season was ranked as high as fifth. Coming off a school best 25-3 season, six players were named to the All-ASC Team.

On Feb. 27, it was announced that UMHB would have an at-large bid to the NCAA D III National Championship after losing in the ASC Championship Tournament to McMurry Feb. 25. This was their fifth time in the past six years to play in the postseason tournament.

“Receiving an at-large bid just shows how much we have worked throughout the season,” junior wing and business finance major Cory Meals said. “We knew that if we had a good record, we still had a good chance to make the NCAA tournament even if we did not win the conference championship.”

The team was excited to receive a bid to the tournament and took it as another chance to show how hard they had been working.

“Receiving an at-large bid is a second chance for our team. It is a huge opportunity to be successful and represent UMHB in the postseason,” Meals said.

With several men on the team being seniors, they are all looking forward to being in the playoffs again.

“It means a lot considering I’m a senior and that I would like one more time to win a national championship,” senior forward and accounting major Greg Wiernas said.

Along with getting an at-large bid, UMHB also hosted both the first and second rounds of the tournament for McMurry University, Trinity University and Whitworth University.

“Having home court advantage is huge. It allows us to play in a familiar environment. It also allows us to play in front of our fans, which is always exciting,” Meals said. “We play extremely well when we are at home, and it makes us that much better and that much more competitive.”

In preparation for the playoffs last weekend, the team was doing its best to be ready for the games.

“We are continuing to practice daily with the idea that we must work hard each day.  The team members are well aware that preparation is an important key to success,” Head Coach Ken DeWeese said.

On March 2, the men started their play in the NCAA Tournament, facing Trinity University in the first round.

During the first half, Trinity hit 58 percent of their shots and had an 11-point lead at halftime.

In the second half, the Cru came back to tie the game at 59 all and even lead at some points during the half.

However, Trinity guard Ryan Beall hit a three-point shot with 17 seconds left to put the Tigers up by two points.

The Cru had one shot to take but couldn’t connect. Trinity took possession of the ball with an offensive rebound and ran to the other end of the court.

Meals and Wiernas both scored double digits for the Cru, but the 41 percent overall shooting was not enough to get the team to the second round of playoffs.

The Cru ends their season with a 25-3 record.

Trinity then played the following day against Whitworth and lost to end their season.


Author: Brooke Morgan

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