With the conference tournament looming, the University of Dallas men’s basketball team got two big home wins this weekend over Schreiner and Trinity University, two of the best teams in the conference.
The two wins improved UD’s conference record to 8-5 and put them in second place in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC), half a game ahead of Trinity and one and a half games behind Schreiner.
On Friday against Trinity, the Crusaders were able to get out to a 19-9 lead. With a pumped-up crowd both junior Darrius Colvin and freshman Spencer Levi put back dunks. Trinity was able to climb back in the game, however, by taking advantage of some open three-point attempts. The Tigers went 6 of 12 from three in the first half and built a 37-32 halftime lead.
In the second half the pace picked up as both teams got out in transition which benefited the Crusaders. UD scored 43 second-half points and took home a 75-66 victory.
On Sunday Dallas took on the top team in the SCAC, the Schreiner Mountaineers, on senior day for the Crusaders’ lone senior, guard Manny Calton.
It was certainly a day that Calton will remember as the Crusaders were able to fight through some foul trouble with key players to take down Schreiner 95-83, completing the season sweep against the SCAC’s best team.
In the first matchup against Schreiner, UD was able to take advantage inside with big man Spencer Levi scoring 33 points. Levi continued his success in the second matchup scoring nine points in the first six minutes but had to go to the bench with two fouls at the 12:06 mark of the first half.
Despite a quick whistle that saw both teams reach the double bonus early in the half, the Crusaders were able to build a 45-35 lead in the last minute and then a 45-38 lead at half.
Schreiner came out strong in the second half and grabbed a 49-48 lead early in the second half, all while Levi committed two quick fouls and had to leave early in the half with four fouls.
With Levi on the bench and fellow big men John Russell and Ben Norton also playing with foul trouble, Colvin carried the load offensively for the Crusaders, scoring 19 points and not coming out of the game until the very last minute.
“I played well but my teammates that don’t normally get a lot of playing time stepped up big and played great,” Colvin said. “As long as we play together with the people we have on the court we always have a great chance to win.”
The Crusaders continued to play tough and grinded out the victory.
“I think the thing that helped us was our defense and we were able to get some big stops and rebounds,” Head Coach Jarred Samples said. “We outrebounded both teams on the weekend and that was something we focused on, so I think our guys did a good job of just being tough.”
Toughness was a big part of the weekend for the Crusaders having to respond to plays the other team made in both games.
“We focused on being the tougher team against one of the tougher teams in our conference,” Colvin said. “You could tell they were getting wore down and we stuck it out and wanted it more than they did.”
Calton subbed out of the game to a standing ovation in the last minute of the game for the last time at the Maher Center.
“He’s definitely left a mark on our program and we’ll definitely miss him, but I think he helped get guys playing the right guys and we’ll see that the year after Manny’s gone what he’s done for us,” Samples said.
The Crusaders will now travel to Colorado Springs on back-to-back weekends, first to finish the regular season against Colorado College on Saturday, Feb. 17 and then for the SCAC tournament the following weekend where the Crusaders hope to earn a bye as one of the top two teams in the conference.