To conclude the 2019-2020 spring season, the University of Dallas men’s basketball team traveled to Houston, TX, and Shreveport, LA, to face off against the top two teams in the conference. Though Dallas needed one win to clinch one of the top-6 seeds to qualify for the SCAC tournament, they fell in overtime 95-94 on Friday night to St. Thomas University (TX). On Saturday at 4 p.m., Centenary College of Louisiana similarly defeated UD 77-73, disqualifying the Crusaders from the SCAC tournament. Dallas finished the season with an 8-10 record in conference and with a 12-13 overall record.
The game against the St. Thomas Celts was delayed for two hours due to UD sophomore Letrell Toussaint breaking the backboard. Coming into the game, St. Thomas had clinched the #1 seed in the SCAC, going 14-2 in conference. UST’s Nathan Thormaehlen scored a layup and a three to take a 5-0 lead, which was met with a seven-point run from the Crusaders. With 14:23 remaining, Thormaehlen hit another three to start an 8-0 run, granting St. Thomas a 15-9 lead. Tight defense led to UST pushing their advantage over the next several minutes, resulting in a 33-24 game with six minutes to play. Dallas then went on a 7-0 run kick-started by four points from junior John Russell. UD kept it close until half, with St. Thomas leading 43-38 at the break.
The Celts extended their lead to 55-43 in the second period, outscoring Dallas 12-5 over the first few minutes. The Crusaders heated up over the next several minutes to take a 66-65 lead under several shots from Russell and junior Dustin Mathis. The teams went back-and-forth before sophomore Cameran Hyde hit a three with nine minutes to go to take a 72-70 lead. With 3:37 left, Hyde hit another three to provide a five-point (84-79) lead for Dallas. UST player Freddie Ricks III kept his team in the game by scoring six consecutive points, but Hyde nailed another three in response, making the scoreline 89-85 UD with just under two minutes remaining.
A couple missed shots from Dallas and four free-throws from Kennard Robinson tied the game at 89. Sophomore Jai Love hit two free-throws to make the game 91-89, but UST player Joshua Sanchez hit a layup with 0:06 remaining to send the game to overtime. Both teams stifled each other in overtime, with neither scoring in the first two minutes of play. With a one-point lead and just a few seconds on the clock, St. Thomas stole the in-bound pass to secure a 95-94 overtime victory. Sanchez led UST with 23 points, while Hyde and Mathis led the Crusaders with 19 points each. After the game, Hyde commented on what he believed tipped the scales in favor of UST.
“I think that down the stretch [St. Thomas] made more winning plays in overtime and [gained] some momentum with big plays. We ended up only losing by one in a hard-fought game. Everybody played like a unit and with purpose, resiliency, and togetherness.”
The Centenary Gents entered the season finale against Dallas with seven consecutive victories and a clinched #2 spot in the SCAC standings due to their 12-5 conference record. Dallas started off strong after senior Isaiah Hayes hit back-to-back threes to make the score 12-6. Centenary responded with a run of their own to tie the game at 12-12 at the 13:38 mark. That was the story of the half: UD gaining ground only to immediately yield it to Centenary.
The Gents took a small 22-18 lead with 9:01 to play after five straight points from Cedric Harris. Harris continued to plague the Crusaders, leading to a 30-23 game with five minutes left in the half. Under several accurate shots from Love, UD managed to outscore Centenary 13-5 in the last five minutes to take back the momentum. Dallas finished the half with a slim 36-35 lead.
Toussaint and Love scored multiple baskets early in the second half, giving UD a more substantial 47-41 advantage with 16 minutes on the clock. Centenary fought back under three buckets from Ralph Johnson to shrink UD’s lead to 51-49. Junior Michael Wambsganss kept Centenary from overtaking Dallas by hitting five straight free throws to make it a 61-57 game with 8:24 remaining.
Centenary refused to relent as the game became a contest of free-throws. Each team shot accurately from the line, culminating in a 71-71 game. Though Dallas had not trailed since the start of the half, Centenary finally took the lead 73-71 with two minutes to go. UD’s offense struggled in the final minutes, scoring only two points on a layup by Love. Down 75-73 with 0:21 left, the Crusaders were forced to foul. Centenary player Seth Thomas made both shots, clinching a 77-73 victory over Dallas.
The narrow defeats mark the end of the season for Dallas, who lost out in a four-way tiebreaker to make the SCAC tournament. Dallas finishes the season 8-10 in conference and 12-13 overall, having lost five of their last six games. The men’s team will take a deserved break before returning in fall 2020. Although a difficult end to a season that looked promising just a couple weeks prior, Dallas Coach Jarred Samples expressed pride in the effort his team put forth to end the season:
“I was proud of the way our guys battled in both games this weekend. We faced a lot of adversity [due to Friday’s delay] and just came up a little short, unfortunately. A couple of different breaks and we could have been 2-0 instead of 0-2.”