Spokane, WA – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men's basketball team came up huge in the final seconds and the Cru made program history with a 71-63 victory over Whitworth University Saturday night in Spokane, Washington. UMHB advances to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III National Championships for the first time in program history with the victory. The loss ends Whitworth's season at 26-4.
The game was tied at 63 with 2:23 remaining after the Pirates erased a 12-point second half deficit. Cory Meals hit a jumper with 49 seconds left to give UMHB a 65-63 lead. Both teams missed a free throw before Kitrick Bell buried a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left to make it a 67-63 Cru lead. James Allen then rebounded missed three-pointers on each of the next two Whitworth possessions and went 4-4 from the stripe to stretch it to the final margin.
UMHB took its largest lead of the game at 49-37 with 12:33 left in the second half before Whitworth shot its way back into the game with a 21-5 run as the Pirates grabbed a 58-54 lead. Meals drained a three-pointer with 3:24 to go to put UMHB back on top and the Cru never trailed again. UMHB trailed 10-2 just 4:16 into the contest before storming back for a 33-24 halftime lead. The 24 first-half points were a season low for the Pirates.
Allen finished with a game-high 21 points to lead UMHB and he went 7-8 from the stripe. Bell added 14 points on 6-7 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Thomas Orr also reached double figures with 12 points. UMHB shot 50 percent from the field and went 3-6 from three-point range in the second half. The Cru also out rebounded Whitworth 37-25 in the victory.
Colton McCargar led Whitworth with a game-high 20 points off the bench. George Valle added 17 points and Dustin McConnell scored 13. Taylor Farnsworth had a game-high 11 rebounds. The Pirates shot just 42 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range after entering the game hitting 51 percent from the floor for the year.
The Cru improves to 25-5 on the year with the win and will face St. Mary's (MD) University in the Sectional Finals at 2:36 PM Eastern Time next Friday in Salem, Virginia. UMHB is just the third American Southwest Conference program to move on to the Sectional Finals of the NCAA Division III National Championships.