BELTON — With his team down by 16 points with 4½ minutes remaining, Mary Hardin-Baylor coach Mark Morefield had seen all he could handle and pulled all five starters off the floor in favor of a crew of reserves.
“That was a message that I was frustrated with their effort more than their execution,” he said. “We’re going to learn some things in the next few days.”
UMHB never found any consistency on either end of the floor, and Texas-Dallas used a dominant performance on the glass to walk away from Mayborn Campus Center with a 69-55 victory Saturday afternoon.
In a rematch of last year’s second-round NCAA Division III Tournament game — won by UMHB — UT-Dallas (9-3, 3-0 American Southwest Conference) outworked the Lady Crusaders (9-3, 2-1) to haul in 21 offensive rebounds and hand them their second loss of the week.
“We learned that we need to pick up the intensity in every single game and box out. The rebounding was absolutely poor on our part,” UMHB senior guard Alicia Blackwell said. “We’ll definitely use this as motivation. We’ll watch the film and learn exactly what we did wrong. We’ll practice those things the next few days and do better the next game.”
Her coach is intent to make sure that happens.
“We have to look at everything and every aspect as we get ready to go on the road,” said Morefield, whose team faces a long trip with games at Belhaven on Thursday and Louisiana College next Saturday. “We have to re-evaluate some things. We’re going to find out how tough we are and who we are and who’s ready to play with a sense of urgency and effort.”
A first half that included long scoring droughts by both teams ended with the Lady Crusaders up 28-26, before the Comets quickly turned the tide in their favor for good.
Six points by Raenett Hughes ignited a 13-0 run capped by Victoria Pena’s 3-pointer for a nine-point lead that UT-Dallas carried into the fourth quarter.
Things only got worse from there for the Lady Crusaders, who trailed by as many as 19 points with 4 minutes remaining.
Hughes finished with a game-high 28 points on 13-of-24 shooting. Pena and Kelley Skinner added 13 points each for the Comets, who were 19-of-28 (68 percent) from the field in the second half and finished with a 46-18 scoring advantage in the paint — thanks in large part to their work on the offensive boards.
Sophomore post Allaira Jones had 11 points and was the only player in double figures for UMHB, which was outrebounded 47-28 overall, shot only 26 percent (6-of-23) over the middle two quarters and slipped from the ASC West Division lead into a three-way tie for second.
“Right now, we’re at a point where we have to have better effort. That’s what it is. These are effort plays, and we have to be better at them,” said Morefield, whose team will surely drop from its No. 5 ranking when the newest national poll is released. “It just comes down to effort and toughness, and we have to be better at that.”