IRVING, Texas – The University of Dallas men's basketball team was edged 70-60 in its home opener to Millsaps College on Saturday night. The Crusaders (1-4) performed better against their opponent in their second meeting in a row, but were unable to close the gap late.
The Majors (8-0) used their height advantage generate a 38-14 advantage for points in the paint. They also won the battle on the boards 37-28. The Crusaders nipped a 36-28 halftime deficit to two with the first six points out of the break, but were unable to overcome Millsaps' counter back to double-digits after that.
Both teams came out of the gate shooting well as the Majors took a 5-0 lead in under a minute. Michael Wambsganss (Denver, Colo.) got UD on the board the next possession with a three-pointer. He nailed another trey after a basket for the guests to keep it a one-point deficit. Joshua Nunn (St. Louis, Mo.) then chimed in with a three to narrow the score at 10-9 less than three minutes gone by. Dustin Mathis (Fort Worth, Texas) was finding the hot shooters with an assist on each one.
Millsaps scored the next eight points over the next four minutes to push an 18-9 edge. A trifecta by Saxton Becker gave the road team the first double-digit lead of the game (21-11) with 11:30 remaining. A pair of UD free throws by Rashid Coombs eventually had cut up the run. At 9:25, the scoring stretch by the Majors reached 18-3 to reflect its largest lead of the game (28-12) on the scoreboard.
The Majors hit 12 of their first 14 attempts from the field.
Jai Love (St. Louis, Mo.) put in his first collegiate points on a basket in his season debut to cap a 7-0 scoring streak by Dallas that made it 28-19 and just under six and a half to go before intermission. After a layup by Millsaps to halt the run, Brooks Boutwell (Lake Oswego, Ore.) drilled a three-pointer and Love split at the free throw line to make it 30-23 and just over five to play in the frame.
Down eight to start the last 20 minutes, the Crusaders scored two quick baskets from Logan Fruhwirth (Waynesville, Ohio) and Wambsganss. Both would miss back-to-back three-pointers before Wambsganss connected on two free throws to nip the score to 36-34 with 17:32 remaining.
Dallas shot 18-of-27 at the free throw line compared to 7-for-8 by the Majors. Dallas was whistled for fewer fouls 25-13, as Millsaps faced foul trouble throughout.
After the early surge by UD, the opposition answered with nine of the next 10 points to raise the deficit back to 10 (45-35). Neither team could find the bottom of the net for several minutes until Coombs drained a triple at 12:20. That 45-38 margin was widened by Millsaps with seven straight that started with a countered three from Drew Burnett.
Separate occasions Dallas got three-pointers from Cameran Hyde (Missouri City, Texas) and Wambsganss to nip the score to 10 and eight at 7:14 and 2:12, respectively. Mathis came up with a big steal with 1:39, but the Crusaders missed a shot on the next possession to shave anymore points off the deficit.
Instead the Majors scored six points in a row to push the game out of reach and stay unblemished with their eighth win.
Wambsganss led the Crusaders with 16 points and five rebounds. Coombs chipped in a personal-best 11 points off the bench. Mathis dished seven dimes for a career-high.
Dallas shot 35.4 percent (17-48) from the field and 8-for-26 from deep. The Crusaders did hold an 8-7 edge in second chance points, although all their points came in the first half. The Majors generated all their points in that category in the second.
Both teams committed 16 turnovers.
Millsaps ended up shooting 49.1 percent from the field with a 28-for-57 effort. This included 7-of-21 from downtown. The Majors were led by Matt Owens with 12 points and Becker with 11 (3-6 from 3FG). Millsaps held a 47-27 edge on bench points. 13 different players made the scoring column among the 16 that entered the contest.
The Crusaders had won their last eight home openers before Saturday's setback.
Dallas hosts Hendrix College on Sunday for another matchup that features two teams that played less than a month ago. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.