GEORGETOWN, Texas — The Southwestern University Pirates men's basketball team fought to the last second in a 75-69 loss to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders in the Pirates' home opener.
Southwestern opened the game with a strong defensive first half, limiting Mary Hardin-Baylor to just 12-for-30 shooting (40 percent) without a single 3-pointer made.
The Pirates denied the Crusaders' high-low actions, forcing tough entry passes, swarming the paint on lobs, and bringing help when needed. On the glass, Southwestern turned in a team effort, staying within an 18-17 rebounding deficit at the break against a team with superior size at nearly every position.
Four of the five starters pulled down three rebounds and the defense forced eight turnovers, including five steals, to take a 39-30 edge in shot attempts in the first half.
The Pirates needed the volume after converting on just 35.9 percent of their shots. Centers Zac Black and Trenton Garrett were efficient inside, combining for 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting and guard Luke Hicks was dynamic as the lone first-half scorer in double figures, scoring 13 points on 10 shots; hitting a 3-pointer right before the first half ended to give the Pirates a 35-29 lead at the break.
Mary Hardin-Baylor opened the second half on a 21-4 run to take a 50-39 lead with 12:29 remaining. The surge was highlighted by a Casey Armour dunk and Pat Everett layup followed by two Crusader technical fouls for taunting.
The Pirates responded with a mini-run of their own, pulling within five at 50-45 but Mary Hardin-Baylor had an answer for every Southwestern challenge, grabbing a crucial offensive rebound or connecting on one big shot after another.
Crusader reserve guard Logan Hicks scored all 14 of his points in the second half, connecting on three deep, standstill 3-pointers in six attempts. Sam Moore also scored 11 second-half points for the Crusaders, hitting two 3-pointers and finishing with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds with six assists.
After shooting 0-for-11 from deep in the first half, the Crusaders shot 5-for-12 in the second to pull away with the victory.
Hicks led the Pirates with 18 points, three rebounds, and three steals. Black had 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting with six rebounds and three assists in just 20 minutes, picking up four fouls. Kyle Howard scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half, finishing 5-for-10 from the field with five rebounds, three steals, and two assists.
With the loss, the Pirates drop to 1-2 on the season while Mary Hardin-Baylor improves to 4-1. Southwestern will travel for a game at Howard Payne University on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 3:00 p.m.