By Brian Hula
The University of Dallas women’s basketball team, which maintained a 5-3 record in the eight games that took place while other students were still enjoying Christmas break, opened a two-game matchup weekend against the Southwestern University Pirates on Friday, Jan. 23. The Crusaders began the game by taking a 5-0 lead in the first minute of play, but the Pirates soon recovered and eventually pulled ahead, stretching their lead to six points near the ten-minute mark with an and-one layup and free throw. The Crusaders were hampered throughout the first period by many offensive fouls. Despite several scoring droughts by the navy and white, the Pirates were never able to increase their lead and entered halftime with only a two-point advantage, 29-27.
The second half was close throughout all 20 minutes. Although the Crusaders trailed for most of the half, they took a 53-50 lead with 3:52 left in the game. At the two-minute mark, the game was tied at 55. From that point, Crusader senior guard Marleyna Bustamante carried her team to victory. She made six free throws in the next minute and a half to put the Crusaders on top, 61-57. However, a Pirate three-pointer with 15 seconds left cut the Crusader lead to one point, 61-60. The Crusaders inbounded the ball to Bustamante, who was fouled and made two more free throws. Although the Pirates took three shots in the final seconds of the game, they were unable to score, and the Crusaders claimed a hard-fought 63-60 win.
Including her eight free throws to close out the game, Bustamante had 18 points Friday night, while freshman forward Michelle DeCoud led the Crusaders with 19 points. “Marleyna came in clutch exactly when we needed her and led our team to a victory,” sophomore guard Sammi Tso said. Senior forward Brooke Hagemann noted the performance of both DeCoud and Bustamante while also crediting the team’s defense. “[The team] played defense really well and got stops when we needed to,” she said.
The navy and white played an afternoon game the next day against the Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs. This time, it was the Crusaders’ opponents who got off to a fast start, as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 12-2 lead. The UD women fought back, eventually drawing within six points of Texas Lutheran on a layup by DeCoud that brought the score to 20-14. But at that point, the Bulldogs went on a 10-0 scoring run, and the Crusaders fell behind by 16 points, 30-14. The Bulldogs went to the locker room at halftime leading 42-25.
The Crusaders trailed by double digits for almost the entire second half until a strong offensive showing by Hagemann and Bustamante helped to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to nine points with just 32 seconds left. Despite the spirited effort by the UD women to cut the deficit to single digits, the Bulldogs scored the last four points of the half to win the game by a score of 89-76. DeCoud said she thought that the Bulldogs’ quick start hurt the Crusaders. “We just let them get away from us early in the game and [we] couldn’t catch up,” she said. “[We need to come] out strong from the opening tip and then [maintain] that intensity throughout the game.”