HOUSTON – The Celts of the University of St. Thomas overcame an early deficit and then held off a late push from Arlington Baptist as they claimed a 100-95 win Tuesday over the Patriots.
Senior forward Sheridan Hopkins turned in her second double-double performance in four games this season, scoring a season-high 37 points and pulling in 13 rebounds to lead St. Thomas (3-1). Hopkins shot 14-of-23 from the floor – including a 3-for-4 showing from 3-point and range – and recorded four steals in the game.
Olivia Anga came off the UST bench to score 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting; she also grabbed seven rebounds and recorded five steals and went 7-for-11 from the free throw line. Bresha Orange scored 13 points for the Celts, while Aerial Starks added 11 points and eight rebounds for UST.
The Celts reached 100 points in regulation time for the first time in the current program's history, dating back to the 2011-12 season. The Celts last reached the century mark in a 102-96 overtime win at Texas Wesleyan on Nov. 26, 2017.
Arlington Baptist took control of the high-scoring game in the first period, leading by as many as 13 points and holding a 31-22 lead after the first 10 minutes. UST closed the gap with a 12-2 run between the 7:40 and 4:15 marks of the second quarter to take a 40-39 lead – the Celts' first lead of the contest. Hopkins and Starks scored six points apiece during the run.
After the visiting Patriots took a 55-53 lead into halftime, the Celts began to seize momentum as they started to pull away from Arlington Baptist. A layup by Anga with 2:33 left in the third period gave the Celts a seven-point advantage.
The Celts stretched their lead to as many as 12 points midway through the fourth quarter, but Arlington Baptist responded with a 14-4 run to cut UST's lead to 97-95 with a minute remaining in the game.
With 51 seconds remaining in the contest, Jazz Taylor sank one out of two free throws to give the Celts a three-point lead. After a turnover and an empty trip to the free throw line, Hopkins claimed an offensive rebound and got fouled with 31 seconds left. She sank two free throws to give the Celts their final margin of victory.
The Patriots outshot and led for a longer amount of time in the game. Arlington Baptist shot 56.5 percent (45 of 62) from the field, compared to 44 percent shooting (36 of 81) from the Celts.
In an otherwise evenly-played game, it was the Celts' defense that made a difference. UST forced 29 turnovers and recorded 21 steals in the game, while only turning the ball over 14 times themselves.
The Celts return to action Friday when they host Mary Hardin-Baylor at UST's Jerabeck Athletic and Activity Center. UMHB was ranked seventh in the season-opening Top 25 poll by d3hoops.com. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.