(Photo Courtesy of SCACsports.com)
SEGUIN, Texas – The fifth-seeded University of Dallas men's basketball defeated fourth-seeded Schreiner University in a nailbiter that saw neither team ahead by more than four points to open the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Men's Basketball Tournament on Friday evening at host Texas Lutheran University. The Crusaders scored the final six points to match their largest lead of the game, which came as the final score 68-64.
In the third meeting between these squads since February 9, both sides played nearly even for the duration of a contest that saw 20 lead changes and 14 ties. The Crusaders made one more field goal (24 to 23) compared to Schreiner and two more free throws (13 to 11). Each side had seven made trifectas and turned the ball over exactly 10 times, which for Dallas tied the second lowest total in a game this year.
The game went back and forth through 38 minutes of play until Michael Wambsganss (Denver, Colo.) drilled a go-ahead three-pointer with exactly two minutes remaining in regulation. The game's leading scorer with 16 points lifted the Crusaders up 65-64, and later hit the backend of two free throw attempts to seal a four-point victory. This advanced Dallas to its second SCAC semifinal game since joining the conference in 2011-12 and first time since 2014-15 when hosting the tournament. The win also snaps a five-game losing streak for UD.
Prior to that final lead exchange, Schreiner had gone up 61-60 with four and a half minutes on a trey by Chase Pinter after rebounding his own missed three on the previous attempt. A split at the line by SU and then two from John Russell (Bossier City, La.) knotted the game a last time at 62-62. The Mountaineers final points of the quarterfinal came from Cameron Davis with 3:05. He missed the extra free throw attempt and the hot Mountaineers went cold missing their remaining five field goal attempts – all from downtown.
Schreiner had won nine of its last 11 games entering the tournament with 10 conference wins to force a three-way tie in the standings. The Mountaineers dropped to 14-12 on the season, and last year's SCAC Tournament champion was eliminated.
Logan Fruhwirth (Waynesville, Ohio) made it a three-point lead in the closing minute for Dallas as his hustle on the play following Wambsganss' trey forced a steal and timeout before Schreiner could force a jump ball to retain possession. The junior forward scored a basket just in front of the free throw line to make it 67-64 on a few plays later.
The Crusaders had the ball with 26 seconds after the opposition missed a three. However, the Mountaineers got the ball back as Wambsganss was called for an offensive foul. Schreiner was unable to take advantage, as another game-tying attempt missed long. Wambsganss collected the rebound for his 10th to match a game-high and secure a double-double.
Dallas jumped out to a quick start with Dustin Mathis (Fort Worth, Texas) and Russell scoring the first points of the game.
Schreiner came right back with a triple by Davis to get the home side on the board. The Crusaders led by four on a trio of occasions in the stanza. Ben Norton (Louisville, Ky.) tossed in a layup putting Dallas up 11-7 four minutes in, and then Mathis answered a three by Schreiner's Ellis Jones to make it 14-10 on the following possessions.
The first half featured eight ties and 10 lead changes. Despite outshooting the Crusaders 50 percent to 48.3 percent and outrebounding 19-16, Schreiner never led by more than a pair of points. Down 36-35 in the last two minutes, UD got a layup from Norton and three by Joshua Nunn (St. Louis, Mo.) to make it 41-38. A basket by Paul Wells closed the half out with Dallas in front 41-40.
Nunn led the Crusaders with 13 points at the break, going a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line.
The Mountaineers started the second half strong with the first four points, but were outshot 41.7 percent to 31.3 percent overall that frame. Dallas only had a field goal by Fruhwirth for almost four minutes until Norton knotted things again at 45. Norton was called for his fourth foul with nearly 15 minutes to go and never returned to the floor. Dallas was able to absorb his absence in the post with freshmen Letrell Toussaint (Waco, Texas) and Ian Burns (Woodbury, Minn.) picking up crucial minutes in their first SCAC Tournament appearances.
It didn't matter who was in, as the seesaw game continued the rest of the way until Dallas got that last momentum in the final two minutes.
Wambsganss posted his fourth double-double of the season and career to go with three treys and assists. Nunn did all his damage in the first half and followed with 13 points. Russell and Fruhwirth completed a quartet of double-digit scorers with 11 and 10, respectively. The duo combined for nine rebounds. Mathis matched a team-best three assists to go with eight points, while Norton put in six points from the bench.
The Crusaders shot 45.3 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from three, and 65 percent at the line. Even with the same amount of turnovers, Dallas had an 11-6 lead in points off turnovers.
Schreiner shot 39.7 percent from the floor, 25.9 percent from three, and 47.8 percent from the line. SU held a narrow 39-38 edge on the boards and 15-8 edge in second chance points. The Mountaineers were led by Alex Dehoyos with 13 points, which nine came from three. Matthew Rindahl went for 12 points and 10 rebounds to earn a double-double. Pinter scored 12 points off the bench, which combined for 27.
The Crusaders improved to 10-16 overall and gave the programs winningest head coach Jarred Samples his 120th career victory. Dallas moves to 2-5 in SCAC Tournament games all-time.
Dallas punched its ticket to the next round where it will face top-seeded Southwestern University. The Pirates went 14-11 overall and 11-5 in conference play to share the SCAC Regular Season Championship with Texas Lutheran University. After tiebreakers, the Pirates earned the nod for the number one seed in the bracket. This is the first time these teams will meet in SCAC tournament play. The teams split during the regular season with the home team winning each time. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m.