This past weekend your University of Dallas men’s basketball team put together the season’s first winning streak as they toppled the Sewanee: University of the South Tigers 64-61 with a game-winning shot from sophomore transfer Joe Stephens on Friday and then breezed by the Centre College Colonels 75-66 on Sunday.
Travelling all the way from Tennessee, the Sewanee Tigers boasted an impressive 10-7 overall record and 5-5 record in the SCAC coming into Friday’s game against the Crusaders.
However, Dallas knew that if they shut down Sewanee’s Valentino Bryant and Lewis Affrontini then there would be nothing to worry about – and shut them down they did. Bryant and Affrontini combined for 5-16 from the field with 60 total minutes played, and Bryant also had four turnovers.
However, the real story came at the end of the game. With the score tied at 61-61, the Crusaders advanced the ball, and head coach Jarred Samples motioned for a timeout. The team carried out the plan, but when the Crusaders were not able to get a good look at the bucket, Samples called another timeout with roughly three seconds left on the clock.
When freshman Kym Malone inbounded the ball to Stephens, he quickly ran to set a fake screen which completely fooled the defense and allowed Stephens to step back and knock in the game winner. The absurdly raucous crowd at the Maher Athletic Center stormed the court and hoisted Stephens atop its shoulders.
Freshman Zach “Frodo” Royal had this to say about his teammate’s shot: “We fought hard the entire game, and when it came down to the wire, we got the ball in Joe’s hands. We know he has the confidence to make a tough shot like that, and sure enough, he did.”
When asked about the shot, Stephens remained humble. “Since there was only three seconds left on the clock,” he said, “I knew we were not going to get a great look close to the basket. So I tried to get a deeper but at least wide-open shot, and I’m just thankful that it went in.”
However, the weekend’s work was not finished. On Sunday the team tipped off against Centre College (Ky.), who had held down a
national ranking for a few weeks earlier in the season. This fact, however, was not about to slow down the Crusaders.
According to Stephens, even the long record of Centre’s success was not about to lead to an easy victory at the Maher Center. “Well, it was a hard-fought victory,” he said. “We knew that it would be a tough game because Centre has made the NCAA tournament the past five years. By winning this game the way we did, I believe that we definitely took a step in the right direction.” With a stellar defensive effort, the Crusaders were able to shoot a much higher field goal and free-throw percentage while limiting Centre’s key players to questionable shots around the hoop.
The next home game is Feb. 17 against Trinity University. Come out and support your Crusaders. They need only a few more wins to secure a spot in the conference tournament!