Crusaders Cannot Contain 2nd Half Surge in Home Setback

Crusaders early edge not enough as Austin College wins a tight one down the stretch.
Crusaders early edge not enough as Austin College wins a tight one down the stretch.

IRVING, Texas – The University of Dallas men's basketball team raced out to its highest point-total in a half this season and led by as many as 18 early in the second half, but could not hang on after a torrid Austin College run in the final frame that resulted in a 66-61 setback on Wednesday at the Maher Center.

The 'Roos (5-5, 1-1 SCAC) used a 24-3 scoring stretch in the middle of the second half that would support a 42-23 difference for the guests and propel them to their first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) victory.

Dallas generated its early lead with the help of some big defensive plays that included a season-high five blocks. The Crusaders (1-8, 0-2 SCAC) also dished a season-best 17 assists.

UD's leading scorer for the second day in a row, Logan Fruhwirth (Waynesville, Ohio), found the touch early for the first seven Dallas points. He scored 13 straight points for the Crusaders over nearly 15 minutes between the end and beginning of this week's pair of SCAC games. Fruhwirth had 12 of his career-best 19 points in the opening stanza.

After Dallas trailed by four early, Fruhwirth scored his septet of points to make it a one-point deficit five and a half minutes in. The first points from someone on the home team besides the junior forward was an inside jumper by Ian Burns (Woodbury, Minn.). His basket was the first of 19 from the UD bench in the frame and sparked a stretch of eight straight points. Jai Love (St. Louis, Mo.) had a pair of free throws to level and take the 11-10 lead. Cameran Hyde (Missouri City, Texas) netted the next seven points with back-to-back layups to cap the scoring streak. He countered a free throw by the 'Roos with a trifecta that opened an 18-11 advantage and secured an 11-1 run halfway through.

The dormant Crusaders' offense exploded with 12 unanswered points from 6:20 to 2:58 minutes left in the half. Austin College dropped the margin to five a couple times prior to the surge. Fruhwirth sparked the run with an old-fashioned three-point play. Hyde followed with a triple and then Fruhwirth finished a layup after a steal and assist from Love. Hyde added a fastbreak layup that came from Love as well. Uniikye Washington (Arlington, Texas) capped the big run with a layup and opened a 31-14 lead.

The 'Roos countered with a pair of steals that led to some few quick baskets. A late three-pointer by AC's Justice Mercadel nipped the deficit to 35-24 with under 10 seconds before intermission.

Joshua Nunn (St. Louis, Mo.) heaved a mid-court shot that went in as time expired and put the Crusaders in front 38-24.

UD held a 20-14 advantage of points in the paint and 19-5 edge in bench points after receiving none from the reserves in the conference opener.

Dallas had the first two field goals of the second half with a dunk and easy layup on breakaways from Fruhwirth.

A 17-point game of 45-28 was the last time a lead was that spread, as AC rattled off nine points in a row to bring the gap within eight. The 'Roos got a three from Derek Lockman, offensive rebound and putback by Chanston Goodman, and then a dunk off a steal from Roland. Two Lockman free throws ended the scoring span. A trio of steals aided Austin College with those last three possessions that led to points.

A layup by Letrell Toussaint (Waco, Texas) was the only scoring play for the Crusaders in what amounted to a 22-2 scoring swing. He had a free throw for the other scoring tally during the game-changing run mentioned at the top.

The 'Roos eventually whittled the deficit to two (47-45) on a three-pointer from Roland. His two free throws were connected at 12:36 to make the game even again. That juncture was the second tie in a contest that finished with seven. Roland gave Austin College the lead with another trey to make it 50-47 and over 12 left in the game.

Toussaint hit an old fashioned three-pointer to knot the game at 52 with 8:44. Austin College went back up on an offensive rebound tip-in from Holland at 8:28.

There was a drought that followed on both sides until John Russell (Bossier City, La.) found the bottom of the net with six minutes. A few more ties followed as Russell forced the final one at 60 with 1:38 still to go. The final time UD led in the game was a jumper with 4:24 left by Hyde.

The 'Roos never allowed Dallas to recapture the lead as Mercadel put the go-ahead jumper in at 1:17, and the home opposition missed the next four attempts from downtown after Love split at the line to make it a one-point game. Holland sealed the win with a layup at 29 seconds and Mercadel put down two free throws 10 seconds later for insurance.

Fruhwirth posted a personal-high in scoring for the second straight conference game. He went 8-for-13 from the field and grabbed five rebounds. Hyde tossed in career-high 15 points from the bench with 6-of-10 shooting. Russell contributed eight points, 10 rebounds (tied game-high), and career-high three blocks. Dustin Mathis (Fort Worth, Texas) and Love respectively notched six and five dimes.

The Crusaders easily garnered a new season-best on the glass with 48 rebounds and 18 on the offensive side.

Points in the paint slightly favored Austin College 36-34. AC held a 25-18 edge in points off turnovers, which the Crusaders committed 20 compared to 16 for their opponent. The 'Roos forced an 11-7 advantage in steals.

Holland and Roland were the top scorers with 20 and 16 points, respectively. Holland grabbed a double-double with 10 boards to match a game-high. The duo were lethal in the big second-half charge with 15 and 12, respectively, in the point's column.


UP NEXT

Dallas takes the week off for Christmas and will seek its first conference win with two games in Colorado. The Crusaders start on December 29 at Colorado College with a 3 p.m. (MST) tip.