Following their two victories at home on Groundhog weekend, The University of Dallas men’s basketball team fell to 11-10 on the season and 7-7 in conference play this weekend after two frustrating away games played versus SCAC opponents Trinity University and Schreiner University.
Friday night against the Trinity Tigers started off close, but Dallas trailed for the entirety of the game in San Antonio. Holding a four-point lead with 9:59 to play in the first half, Trinity forward David Nickell kickstarted a 15-2 run over the next four minutes that led to a 30-13 deficit for UD. The Crusaders fought back in the remaining six minutes but went into halftime trailing 42-27.
Dallas looked sharp after the break, opening the second period with a three-pointer made by junior Dustin Mathis. Mathis led the Crusaders in scoring on the day with 19 points. Sophomore Letrell Toussaint added a layup and a free throw, cutting the loss to 44-33.
Trinity swiftly answered with a 7-0 run, granting them an 18 point lead. The back and forth continued with two straight three-pointers made by Crusader senior Isaiah Hayes, resulting in a 51-39 scoreline with 15:38 left in the contest. Tight defensive play and accurate shooting resulted in Trinity maintaining a double-digit lead for the rest of the game.
Though UD paced Trinity for the rest of the second half, the game seemed always just out of reach for the Crusaders. The 25 points from Trinity Tiger Jack Williams, who shot 10-18 from the field, kept them in check. Trinity held on to win the game 81-68. Dallas prepared to face off against Schreiner in Kerrville.
Schreiner started off strong on Saturday as they converted on early turnovers by Dallas to earn a 20-11 lead with 14:28 left in the first. Junior John Russell responded with two layups to keep UD in the game. Both teams struggled to put points on the board over the next several minutes, which resulted in a 24-18 Mountaineer lead with 7:28 to play. After a media timeout, the Crusaders found their momentum and went on a 12-2 run, resulting in a slim lead for Dallas. Two three-pointers and a couple of free throws from Freshman Jacob Giunta granted UD a 35-31 lead at the break.
The second half was a close affair until Dallas collapsed in the final minutes, which led to their defeat. Schreiner opened the period with three points from Schreiner Mountaineer Matthew Rindahl to narrow UD’s lead, but two jumpers from Russell gave the Crusaders a 41-36 advantage with 16:09 remaining.
Dallas maintained a narrow lead until the game reached its climax at 60-60 with 7:19 left on the clock. Unfortunately for Dallas, a series of fouls, turnovers and poor shooting crippled their offense from that point forward. They were outscored 16-4 in the last seven minutes of play, leading to a 76-64 loss. Rindahl finished the game leading Schreiner in points (17) and rebounds (8), while Dallas’ Giunta achieved a career-high 25 points. Toussaint, who started in both games, detailed the Crusaders’ mentality as they prepare for the season’s end and the upcoming SCAC tournament.
“I think what we have to do as a team right now is refocus for these last few games before the conference tournament. We already knew that this year’s conference was highly competitive and that this season would have setbacks. But these past two losses aren’t what’s important, it’s how we’re able to respond to this situation through practice … these next two games [are what] we need to focus on. Hopefully, we pull through [and] start the tournament on a four-game win streak.”
The Crusaders’ final home games of the 2020 season will be played this coming weekend. Dallas will host Texas Lutheran University at 5:30 p.m. on Friday before facing Southwestern University on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Before facing Southwestern, seniors Scott Bolen and Isaiah Hayes will be honored as part of Senior Night.