The University of Dallas men’s basketball team continued their late season struggles as they lost their final games of the season to Schreiner University and Trinity University. The pair of losses makes five straight for the Crusaders.
“We’ve allowed poor shooting to affect our focus on and off the ball” senior Ben Norton said about the recent stretch of games.
“Sometimes shots don’t fall but we can’t let that affect our focus and defense. When we allow it to bleed into those areas, our struggles tend to multiply and build on top of each other. If you look at our shooting percentages the last couple weeks we’ve struggled inside and outside the paint. We really get into trouble when this causes us to lose focus on defense.” Norton added.
In Friday’s game, the Crusaders quickly jumped ahead of Schreiner 12-2 within the first five minutes of the game shooting 5-8 from the field including two three-pointers from sophomore Michael Wambsganss. However, the Mountaineers slowly worked their way back into the game and tied the game at 16 with 8:59 left in the 1st half. Schreiner finished the half on a 22-8 as the Crusaders scored all eight points on free throws. Despite outshooting the Mountaineers 46 percent to 44 percent for the game, Schreiner continued to outpace the Crusaders in the second half. Dallas lost by the final score of 83-62.
Wambsganss led the all scorers with 24 points for the game on 8-14 shooting with 5-10 from the 3-point line and 3-4 from the foul line. He also led the team in rebounds and steals with 5 and 3, respectively. Junior John Russell was the only other Crusader to reach double digit points with 10.
On Saturday, the Crusaders came out strong again against Trinity as they were tied at 19 with the Tigers about midway through the 1st half. However, Trinity then went on a 15-2 run to close out the half and led 34-21. During Trinity’s run, the Crusaders failed to score baskets from the field going 0-15 over a nearly 14 minute span. The Crusaders bounced back in the second half but were only able to play evenly as both teams scored exactly 34 points, resulting in a 68-55 Tigers’ victory.
“Trinity really increased their defensive pressure around the perimeter,” said Norton. “As a result our shooting suffered. Ultimately though we need to refocus on ourselves. Play how we want to play.”
Freshman Jai Love had a career day off the bench for UD as he led the team with 17 points on 5-8 shooting with 2-4 from the three point line and 5-7 from the foul line. Freshman Cameran Hyde also scored over 10 points with 14 making 4 fields goals, one of them being a three pointer and five free throws.
“These games have helped to show us that we can’t take anything as certain or for granted,” said Norton. “We’re hungry to bounce back and have a successful tournament. Anything can happen in the conference tournament. Everyone is 0-0 now. The team that comes focused and ready to play their game will end up on top. I’m confident we’ll be that team.”
Dallas finished the regular season with a 9-16 overall record and 6-10 in conference. UD limps into the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) tournament which will be hosted by Texas Lutheran University from Feb 22-24. Dallas currently holds the 5 seed and is slated to play Schreiner for the third time in three weeks on Friday at 5 p.m.