BELTON, Texas – Playing on its home floor in the opening round of the 2010 American Southwest Conference Men's Basketball Tournament, No. 1 seeded Mary Hardin-Baylor built a 16-point halftime lead behind 49 percent shooting and owned a big advantage on the boards, as they cruised to an 82-61 win over the East's No. 4 seed UT Tyler.
With the loss, UT Tyler ends its season at 15-11 overall, while Mary Hardin-Baylor improved to 20-6 and advances to play Mississippi College in the semifinals tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.
The Crusaders led from start to finish, opening the game with 19 of the first 23 points to take an early 15-point advantage with just over 12 minutes to play in the first half. The Patriots connected on just two of its first 12 shots that allowed the Crusaders to put the game in their hands, getting nine of Sterling Phillips' game-high 23 points in the opening eight minutes.
UT Tyler wouldn't get any closer than 13 the rest of the half in trailing 42-26 at the break. The Patriots finished just 24 percent from the floor in the opening period, hitting 8-of-33 shots.
After cutting the lead to 14 minutes into the second half on a Josh Twine jumper and Michael Johnson layup, a 9-4 run for UMHB stretched the lead to 21 points and put the game well out of reach.
The Crusaders would dominate the boards on the night, owning a 51-32 edge, including 22 offensive boards. The Patriots shot much better in the second half, connecting on 44 percent, but the halftime deficit was too much to overcome.
Hakeem Kareem, UT Tyler's leading scorer and rebounder, was held to just four points and one rebound on the night thanks to a stifling Crusader defense that forced 16 Patriot turnovers and grabbed 11 steals. Johnson would finish as the Patriots' leading scorer on the night with 13 points off three 3s, while Twine was the only other scorer in double figures.
Phillips led the Cru with 23 points and Theo Ard added 12 points and tied an ASC quarterfinal game record with 15 rebounds. Brian Todd also had a season-high 10 points off the bench for UMHB in the victory. Zane Johnston also set a new ASC career record by playing in his 111th game, breaking the previous record of 110 he shared with Tyler Winford of Mississippi College.
The Patriots close their season with the loss and say farewell to seniors Neal Welch, Dexter McMarion, Kareem and Twine.