By: Adam Ledyard (ETBU Athletics)
ALPINE, Tx (ETBU Athletics) – Battling from behind from the beginning, the #2 East Texas Baptist University women’s basketball team came up short of winning the American Southwest Conference tournament falling to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, 75-72. ETBU ends their season 25-1.
This season marked one of the best in program history going 23-0 in the regular season and winning 25 games. The 25-game winning streak is a program best and the 25 wins were the second most in all NCAA women’s basketball behind Florida Gulf Coast University’s 26 wins.
Mallory Stephens would carry ETBU scoring a career-high 29 points. Haley Fieseler and Taylor Singleton would both add eight points each while Kaia Williams and Grace Stephens tallied seven points. Hannah Eggleston scored a team-high 17 points for UMHB while Olivia Champion added 12 points.
UMHB outshot ETBU from the field (47.3%-39.6%) despite ETBU making 35.3% from three-point range and 70.6% from the free throw line. ETBU out rebounded UMHB 49-34.
Early on, both teams would knock down a pair of free throws to make the score 5-5. The Crusaders would then turn things up a notch for the remainder of the quarter as they finished shooting 42.9% from the field. Making only three field goals in total, ETBU would bring the score to 11-9, but couldn’t get closer as UMHB led 17-11 after one quarter.
The Cru added to their lead to start the second quarter pushing the lead to 10, 21-11. ETBU responded with four straight points from Williams (7:27) and Singleton (6:32) to make the score 21-15. However, UMHB would once again take control as they increased their lead to three possessions. Once again, the Tigers would only make three field goals in the quarter as their 25% field goal shooting meant that they trailed UMHB, 35-23, at the half.
ETBU started the second half with an 18-5 run to grab their first lead of the game at 41-40. Mallory Stephens would score seven points in the run giving her 14 by the end of the third quarter while Bridget Upton and Singleton added five points in the stretch. After trading leads, UMHB would grab the momentum back to lead 48-43 heading into the final quarter.
Fieseler started ETBU in the fourth quarter with a basket (9:30). Yet, UMHB would tack on four straight points to lead 52-45. Each team would exchange leads as ETBU’s spark plug was Mallory Stephens, who would score 15 fourth quarter points to keep ETBU in the game. Despite this surge, the Crusaders would increase their lead to 70-63 with 2:54 to go. But, ETBU showed true grit and rallied back as they would score six of the next eight points, including a steal from Mycah McDonald to cut the lead to 72-69 with 1:14 left.
The Crusaders would make a free-throw to extend their lead to 73-69 but saw Fieseler make two free throws for ETBU to trail 73-71 with 37 seconds left. Kenidi White stole the ball to set up ETBU for a game-tying shot, but ETBU was unable to convert. UMHB would then hold on for the three-point win.
In his first season as head coach, Blake Arbogast continued to take the women’s basketball program to the next level. ETBU has now had four straight 20-win seasons and it is the second time to win 25 games in four years.