Big Shooting Performance powers Crusaders by Hendrix Tuesday

Russell was part of a big scoring night as the Crusaders scored over 40 points per half to gain 1st road win of season.
Russell was part of a big scoring night as the Crusaders scored over 40 points per half to gain 1st road win of season.

CONWAY, Ark. – Sharp shooting from all categories lifted the University of Dallas men's basketball team to a 90-76 victory on the road at Hendrix College on Tuesday night. The Crusaders had five players score double figures – four in the starting lineup – which helped them race out to a 44-27 first half advantage and hold off a late run by the home team.

UD shot 61.5 percent (32-52) overall from the field. This included 9-for-18 (50%) from distance, which was highlighted by Michael Wambsganss (Denver, Colo.) shooting 6-of-9. The freshman led his team with a game-high 20 points and drained four of his five long range attempts to have all 12 of his points in the opening stanza. Dallas also shot well at the free throw line with an 81 percent (17-21) mark.

Out of the gate, John Russell (Bossier City, La.) threw in a layup to start the big scoring night for the road squad. There were only a pair of ties and lead changes throughout the contest, and all of them occurred 2:13 minutes into regulation. A layup by Spencer Levi (St. Louis, Mo.) regained the lead 5-4 for the Crusaders and they never trailed from that juncture. Solomon Berezin (League City, Texas), Russell, and Levi netted consecutive layups to put UD ahead 11-4 with a little beyond four minutes into play.

Hendrix countered with little spurts to reduce the margin to two points over the next four minutes, but a three-pointer by Isaiah Hayes (Arlington, Texas) made the score 18-13 with 12:06 in the first. That sparked a stretch of eight straight points that was capped by a trey by Wambsganss to reflect Dallas' first double-digit lead of the game with nine and a half remaining.

The Warriors narrowed the deficit to four points (24-20) over the next two minutes, but would go cold in the scoring column the rest of the half. During the last 7:52 minutes the Crusaders orchestrated a 20-7 run. That eruption was ignited by nine unanswered points in a row. Russell drained a jumper followed by two free throws from Ben Norton (Louisville, Ky.). The team's leading scorer sank his first-of-three trifectas during that massive run to make it 31-20 and 5:42 to go. Russell capped consecutive scoring stretch with a field goal and five to play in the frame.

Trey Rouse for the Warriors ended the drought with a trey at 4:17, but UD had nine of the next 11 points from downtown to push its greatest edge of the half to 19 (44-25). Wambsganss had the first pair of long range field goals, and Berezin nailed the sixth three-pointer of the 20-minute span.

The Crusaders did have 16 points that half in the paint and off turnovers. The bench for the visitors outscored the opposition 19-9. Wambsganss led that group with his personal-best.

The Warriors did turn the tide in the second half with their reserves scoring 25 points compared to 10 by UD. That also helped a 49-46 scoring advantage for Hendrix.

It appeared early in the next half that the Crusaders had a secure lead with the amount reaching as many as 21 with around 12 minutes to go. Berezin scored a three to hit the largest margin of the contest.

Hendrix cut into the deficit with the next nine points in less than two minutes. With more than half of the second still to go, Dallas regained the momentum by going up as many as 17 with 8:22 after Darrius Colvin hit a jumper. Colvin had 11 of his 13 points in the second half. Berezin joined him for double-digits that latter 20 minutes with each shooting 4-for-6 on the floor to score the majority of their points.

Even though both teams committed the same amount of turnovers (15) in the game, Hendrix used a 17-6 edge in the second half to help its comeback bid. Twice with under six minutes the Warriors pulled within 10, but never any further. Colvin scored a layup at 4:14 and Wambsganss put down his sixth and final trey at 3:35 to make it a 15-point advantage (83-68).

A field goal from beyond the arc by Jake Eaton shrunk the lead back to 10 with 1:23, but four of the next five free throws by Dallas sealed a 2-0 start to the campaign.

After the game-high scoring performance by Wambsganss was Levi with 16 points. Russell and Berezin each had season-highs 15 apiece. Colvin completed the quintet of double figure scorers with 13. Norton brought down a team-high seven rebounds, while Levi and Russell each garnered six. The Crusaders did boast a 34-22 edge on the glass and 15-8 advantage in assists.

The Warriors, who dropped to 0-4, were led by Marcus Hall with 18 points. Rouse and Kam Bransfield chipped in 14 and 12, respectively.

10th year head coach Jarred Samples now has 97 wins in his career. Last season the only time Dallas posted a shooting percentage greater than 60.0 was in the historic 136-127 victory versus Rhodes College (Jan. 2, 2017) with a 68.4-clip.

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Dallas continues its three-game road trip at Illinois Tech on Saturday with a 1 p.m. scheduled tip-off.