ABILENE, Texas – Hardin-Simmons' women's basketball team beat its first top 10 opponent in 13 years with a 61-59 win over No. 6 Mary Hardin-Baylor in American Southwest Conference action at the Mabee Complex on Saturday.
It was the second win of the year for the Cowgirls over a nationally-ranked team and the Cowgirls improved to 15-6 on the year and 9-4 in American Southwest Conference play. UMHB fell to 20-2 on the year and 12-1 in ASC play. UMHB's other loss on the year is to No. 2 Thomas More.
The Cowgirls had control for most of the game, before UMHB made a furious fourth-quarter rally. Kaitlyn Ellis blocked Hannah Holt's last-second attempt at the buzzer.
HSU took a 14-10 lead after the first quarter and led 18-16 with 6:43 to play in the second quarter. The Cowgirls then shut the Cru out the rest of the half and led 30-16 at halftime. The Cowgirls held UMHB to 0-16 in the second quarter and to 5-of-31 shooting in the first half.
The Cowgirls continued to build its lead and Maria Fernandez hit a 3-pointer with 3:29 to play in the third quarter to giver HSU its biggest lead at 44-25. HSU led 47-33 going into the final period.
UMHB scored the first 10 points of the final quarter and cut it to 47-43. HSU pushed the lead back to 51-43 on three free throws by Ryan Bush.
The Cowgirls led 58-53 with :21 to play and Alicia Blackwell hit a 3-pointer with :14 to play and Taylor Gaffney added two free throws for HSU. Blackwell hit another 3-pointer with :07 to play to make the score 60-59.
Gaffney split a pair of free throws and UMHB raced the ball up the right side and found top scorer Hannah Holt under the basket but Ellis blocked her last-second shot and the Cowgirls celebrated the victory.
HSU had a balanced attack with 14 points from Fernandez and 12 from Bush. Ellis added 10 points and Keilee Burke had another double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Holt finished with 15 points, but the Cowgirls held her to a 6-for-19 shooting day. Blackwell had 14. HSU limited the Cru to 30.4 percent shooting on the day to overcome a 16-rebound advantage for the Cru.
The Cowgirls hit the road next week to play Sul Ross State and Howard Payne.
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