Men’s basketball first Texas team to play for DIII National Championship
The 2012-13 season was a year of firsts for the men’s basketball team. The Cru posted a school single-season record with 27 victories on the year and became the first American Southwest Conference men’s basketball program to advance beyond the Elite Eight, the first men’s basketball team from the state of Texas to play for a Division III National Championship and the first UMHB men’s basketball team to move beyond the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Division III National Championships.
The Cru beat three nationally ranked opponents after opening the postseason with a 25-point win over conference rival Concordia Texas. The team then headed off to Spokane, Wash., for another rematch of a regular season game with the Sectional Round match-up at Whitworth University. UMHB posted a 71-63 victory, scoring 17 of the game’s final 20 points to move into the National Quarterfinals for the first time in program history. The Cru went on to beat St. Mary’s 69-66 in the National Quarterfinals, setting up a showdown with top-ranked St. Thomas in the Semifinals. UMHB was down by 14 with 10:22 remaining, but outscored the Tommies 34-13 the rest of the way, punching UMHB’s ticket to the title game.
“To come back after being down so much to beat the #1 team in the country, and to see the look on people’s faces, I think that has to be the most memorable moment for me,” junior forward Kitrick Bell said.
The clock struck midnight on the Cru’s Cinderella story with an 87-70 loss to Amherst in the 2013 NCAA Division III National Championship Game Sunday, April 7, in Atlanta.
“I thought we played pretty well defensively, holding them to 41 percent shooting,” said Cru Head Coach Ken DeWeese. “But for some reason we just couldn’t score the way we usually do. I thought we had some good looks, but the shots just didn’t go down. I give Amherst a lot of credit; they are very deserving national champions.”
The game was played in front of 6,250 fans at Philips Arena in conjunction with the Division I Final Four and Division II National Championship Game as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the Men’s Basketball Tournament. More than 300 UMHB students made the trip, along with a large contingent of administrators, employees, friends, and families, to provide an incredible atmosphere for the title game. The game was also televised on CBS Sports Network.
“Everything this postseason is something I will never forget,” senior wing Cory Meals said. “Everyone dreams of making it to the national championship, and we knew it would be difficult. We worked so hard to get here, and I’m just thankful to have had the opportunity.”