ALPINE, Texas (LeTourneau Athletics) – LeTourneau needed a gut check, but the Jackets hit the wake-up button in the second half, and rode that alarm to a 94-90 American Southwest Conference quarterfinal win over Mary Hardin-Baylor Thursday.
The YellowJackets (21-5) advance to play host Sul Ross State (17-9) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
“We played sloppy in the first half with 10 turnovers,” LETU coach Dan Miller said. “Thankfully, Drew was shooting lights out to keep us in the game.”
Andrew Eberhardt scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half – one in which the Jackets trailed 43-42 at the break.
The YellowJackets opened the second half with a 13-6 run, taking a six-point lead on Garrett Beene’s block at one end and three-pointer at the other 4:05 after the break. Sam Moore converted a three-point play 35 seconds later to pull the Crusaders (15-11) within one. Casey Armour, who went 6-for-6 from the floor, gave UHMB a one-point lead with 12:40 to go.
After Eberhardt sank two free throws to put the Jackets ahead one, Pat Everett knocked down a jumper in the paint with 11:35 remaining to push the Cru back on top. But LETU scored the game’s next 10 points to take a 72-63 lead on Justin Moore’s three-pointer with 8:46 remaining. Logan Hicks sank one of two free throws at the 5:00 mark as the Cru pulled within 75-71.
“UHMB is so talented, and even at the end, their deep shooting kept them in the game,” Miller said.
LeTourneau stretched its lead back to nine on Nate West’s driving layup with 3:44 to go. Moore hit a jumper in the paint 1:22 later to extend the gap to 11, but Hicks capped a 7-0 run as the Cru cut it to four again. Kyle Matthews sank two free throws with 24 seconds left to cushion LETU’s lead back to eight, but Hicks canned a three 12 seconds later to make it a five-point game, and then hit another with seven seconds to go to cut it to four before the Jackets held on.
West finished with 36 points, seven assists and eight rebounds. Eberhardt added six assists and six boards. John Argue had 15 points and eight rebounds.
“I loved our ball toughness in the second half,” said Miller, whose team knocked down a season-high 19 triples. “And we only committed two turnovers (in the half).”
Eberhardt buried a career-high eight triples, and West hit seven. The YellowJackets had 20 assists for the second time in the last three games.
“Proud of the guys for finding a way tonight,” Miller said. “Now let’s refocus for Round two.”