Men’s basketball set for run at ASC championship title

THE BELLS — The men’s basketball team has continued its winning ways, stringing together eight consecutive wins and most recently beating the University of Texas in Dallas Feb. 22.
Jerard Graham led the Cru with 19 points along with 12 rebounds. Senior forward Kitrick Bell wasn’t far behind, finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
The last two games of the season were highly important for the Crusaders. They dropped a few conference games early but finished strong in order to put them in good position for the conference tournament.
“The two last games are important because it decides on what seed we will be going into the tournament,” head coach Ken DeWeese said. “If we win these last two games, numerically speaking, it looks to be a little bit of an easier road, but if we get in that situation, I will be the first to tell you it isn’t any easier.”
The Crusaders dropped the first meetings against Hardin-Simmons and UTD, but when those two teams traveled to Belton to face UMHB again, they met a different Crusader team.
“We lost the two on the road at HSU and at UTD. I didn’t think we played poorly at Hardin-Simmons but they had one guy that made six threes. They beat us by four, and he was the difference,” DeWeese said.
Sophomore center Russell Green agrees they weren’t playing to their full potential at that time in the season but have turned it around and will be a force in the conference tournament.
“I think we are doing the little things better. We are also playing a whole lot better defense, and we have more confidence as a team.”
The men will be heading into the conference tournament as the number three seed. Their winning streak can be attributed to their escalated play on the defensive end of the court.
“Our defense has really stepped up in these last nine games,” Green said. “We continue to get stops on defense, which leads to good shots on the other end. I think that has been a big contributor here late in the season.”
The Crusaders will travel to  the University of Texas Dallas for the conference tournament this weekend.  Even though the men defeated the Comets in the last game of the regular season, UTD still holds the number one seed in the conference followed by Hardin-Simmons.
For a shot at the national tournament, the Crusaders need to play well in the ASC tournament. A conference tournament championship would guarantee them an automatic bid.
“We just have to go take care of business in the tournament. We control our own destiny. We know we can win it. We just have to have a good week of practice and play like we know we can,” senior guard Antonie Chaney said.
The men will be playing Louisiana College in the opening game of the tournament. The game will be Friday, Feb. 28. The Crusaders have won one out of the two meetings against the Tigers so far this season.

Author: Leif Johnston

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