The University of Dallas men’s basketball team finished the 2011-2012 season’s final away games this past week when they flew to Arkansas and Colorado to face off against Hendrix College and Colorado College. After a few days of practice and rest, the team bussed up to Sherman to face off against the Roos of Austin College. During this road stint, the Crusaders defeated Hendrix College 74-65, but then had to card tough losses to both Colorado College (78-55) and Austin College (72-61).
The team knew that the first game – in Conway, Arkansas, against Hendrix College – was a must-win if they wanted to keep alive their goal of making the SCAC tournament. Sophomore Joe Stephens agreed.
“We knew that this game was going to be the most important game all season, because the winner was going to gain the all-important one-game advantage over the other team to make it to the SCAC tournament,” Stephens said. “I’m just glad we found a way to get the win.” With this in mind, the Crusaders put together one of their best all-around games of the year.
As far as percentages go, they connected on 46 percent of field goal shots and were able to hit 60 percent of their three-point shots, in addition to limiting turnovers and keeping the other team from connecting on many shots. However, the Crusaders were only able to connect on 10 of 16 free throws, good for a 62.5 percent average. Some highlights included sophomore Joe Stephens shooting 8-18 for 24 points and fellow sophomore Braeton Hightower going 5-8 for 13 points, in addition to solid play by captain Drew Assinesi (3-7, eight points) and junior forward Tanner Bruffey (4-10, 10 points).
After the Hendrix win, the team cleaned up and boarded another flight to beautiful Colorado Springs, Colo., where they tipped-off against Colorado College. After a few good practices to get acclimated to the lack of oxygen at such a high altitude, the team felt it was ready to put a good game together against Colorado. However, after having such a nice shooting game against Hendrix, the Crusaders just could not get the ball through the hoop. They shot a dismal 17-60 on field goals, good for roughly 28 percent, in addition to 2-16 three-point buckets. On the other hand, there were a lot of positives to be taken from the game. Bruffey knocked in 5-12 for 17 points, and Stephens went 4-4 from the free-throw line and finished with 13 points. With the thought of increased defensive levels in their heads, the team headed back to Texas to prepare for Austin College.
Yet from the tip-off against Austin, the Crusaders just could not seem to get it together, and the small mental errors began to add up. The Crusaders finished with 14 turnovers and only 31 total rebounds and shot 3-17 from the three-point line. Top performers in the game included forward Decker Smith (5-9, 13 points), center Aaron Wyatt (5-7, 12 points) and Kym Malone (11 points, five assists).
This upcoming weekend will feature the final two men’s basketball home games. They need all the support they can get to finish the season on a strong note and earn an invite to their very first SCAC tournament. Friday’s game is against bitter rival Trinity University at 8 p.m., and Saturday’s game is against Southwestern University, at 8 p.m. as well. Go Crusaders! We’ll see you all out there this weekend.