Crusaders grind out Season-Opening Win over Millsaps

Levi scored 17 points and added 12 rebounds in collegiate debut that factored big in Wednesday's win.
Levi scored 17 points and added 12 rebounds in collegiate debut that factored big in Wednesday's win.

IRVING, Texas – The University of Dallas men's basketball team prevailed 73-68 over Millsaps College on Wednesday night in the Maher Center. The Crusaders used two huge runs late in the second half to start the season off 1-0, while Millsaps dropped its opener. The Majors held a 32-31 lead at intermission, but UD used a 12-1 run to take its largest lead of the game (5) before scoring 10 of the final 13 points in 1:43 minutes of regulation.

Spencer Levi (St. Louis, Mo.) had a stellar collegiate debut with 17 points and a team-high 12 rebounds for a double-double. Darrius Colvin (Waco, Texas) was two points shy of tying a personal best and led all scorers with 23. The Crusaders also held the advantage in the rebounding department 43-37 and committed six fewer turnovers 27-21.

The guests started with a 7-2 lead after She'Chem Grant netted a trey with 17:34 left in the opening frame. John Russell (Bossier City, La.) scored a layup and back-to-back free throws by Colvin shrunk the gap to one. Things remained tight most of the half. Joshua Nunn (St. Louis, Mo.) lifted Dallas in front with his first career field goal being a trey, but the Majors countered with nine straight points. They did take their greatest advantage with 4:45 left after a layup by Joshua Miller that capped the run to reflect a 30-22 score.

Five unanswered points by the Crusaders sent them into the break down one. Ben Norton (Louisville, Ky.) and Prince Giadolor (Rockwall, Texas) combined for all points at the free throw line in that span with Giadolor having the final trio.

Millsaps pulled out early in the first half with the first five points. Grant punched a quick triple nine seconds in and Michael Sullivan sprinted for a fast break layup a minute and a half in. The Crusaders were not fazed and kept the score at two possessions throughout the first seven minutes of action.

Down three, Colvin maneuvered on a fast break to get the crowd back in it with 13:01. After a Millsaps missed three-pointer, Isaiah Hayes (Arlington, Texas) drained his only attempt in the far right corner to raise the Crusaders back to their first lead since 6:12 remained in the first stanza.

That brief 46-44 lead vanished with MC scoring 10-of-12 to go up as many as six (54-48) with nine minutes left in the contest. The Crusaders rattled off 12 of the next 13 points in about three minutes to swing the momentum. Emmanuel Calton (Keller, Texas) sparked the surge with a layup and then Nunn added a jumper. After a free throw by Tysin Meads for the single point for the Majors in that span, Michael Wambsganss (Denver, Colo.) got welcomed to the scoring column for the first time in his collegiate career with a trifecta at 6:46.

Of the 11 players in the box score for Dallas, five newcomers made their college debuts with two in the starting lineup. Levi was one of those starters and impacted the final outcome. His offensive rebound – which he had five in the game – led to a tip-in that was the go-ahead score with 6:15 (57-55) during that massive run. He added a layup and free throw to complete the eight-point scoring streak within that stretch. Nunn hustled for an impressive steal that led to the quick bucket by Levi.

UD's opponent did not go away as twice the game featured a tie. Sullivan knotted the score at 63 with 3:29 and Miller hit an inside layup to put Millsps on top by two.

Colvin evened the score at 1:43 and had the next seven points to extend the margin to five (70-65). The Crusaders did shoot 19-of-31 from the charity stripe (61.3 percent) overall, but did made 6-of-8 during that last 10-3 scoring swing. Their hot hand at the line extended to 10-of-13 in the last 5:57 minutes from Levi's free throw that capped the 12-1 run that turned the tide to give UD its seventh straight home-opening win.

Dallas did win its season opener as well last year and have won four of the past five seasons to start the campaigns in the favorable column. Tonight's win gave head coach Jarred Samples 96 in his career.

Grant led the Majors with 22 points and Miller contributed 11. James Turner controlled the glass with 16 boards.

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Dallas plays its first road contest on November 21st at Hendrix College. First tip scheduled at 7:30 p.m. after the women's tilt.