IRVING, Texas – An incredible 24-6 scoring stretch in six minutes that included three dunks and eight straight fast break points helped the University of Dallas men's basketball team endure a comeback by Johnson & Wales University (CO) and put Saturday's game out of reach. Dallas prevailed 82-65, as 10-year head coach Jarred Samples ('01) earned career win number 100 at his alma mater.
Spencer Levi (St. Louis, Mo.) maintained his amazing start to his career as he nearly notched a triple-double with 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 blocks. The nine rejections set an individual game record. He solely matched the team blocks record in a game as UD set that one with 11.
Dallas carried a 12-point lead into halftime, but saw that margin erased as the Wildcats (0-15) went up on a three-pointer by Andrew Romero III with 12:35 left in the second. It was a highly contested game until one of several highlight dunks by Levi sparked the enormous scoring span at 7:10.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Crusaders netted 12 of the first 14 points in the game, which included 10 straight to build an early confident lead. Levi started his high scoring day 13 seconds out of the tip. Prince Giadolor (Rockwall, Texas) followed with a field goal with less than a minute gone by. John Russell (Bossier City, La.) scored consecutive baskets for UD, and Darrius Colvin (Waco, Texas) got on the board with a jumper to cap the stretch at 16:26.
After Levi's second field goal made it 12-2, Johnson & Wales countered with the next seven points to tighten the margin at one possession. Dallas struck back with a couple layups by Joshua Nunn (St. Louis, Mo.) and Isaiah Hayes (Arlington, Texas) to widen the gap again. Michael Wambsganss (Denver, Colo.) drilled a three-pointer to make it a 19-13 lead a little more than halfway until the first break.
Romero III got an offensive rebound tip-in to cut the game to 19-18 at 8:09, but the home squad pushed the lead back to double-digits with 12 points in a row. Giadolor started the surge with a layup. Colvin had a breakaway on a steal and threw down a thunderous dunk to ignite the stands. Levi (4) and Wambsganss combined for six points at the free throw line during the run, which resulted the largest lead of the frame 13.
In the second stanza, Johnson & Wales worked immediately on reducing the gap by getting within five after making seven straight points about a minute and a half. A minute later Levi found the first UD points in the second half by rising up for a big dunk that Giadolor found him on.
After UD got up by nine again, the Wildcats countered back with their largest scoring streak of 11. Romero III nailed a three field goals from deep, with the final of that trio putting the road team up for the only time of the contest (48-45).
A three by Colvin – who scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half – knotted the score at 50 with 11:10 remaining. A couple possessions later Colvin took a rebound and pushed the ball down for a go-ahead layup. Russell netted a basket and then Levi snatched a steal that led to a layup and put UD up 56-50.
JWU scored to make it a four-point game after a timeout, but the Crusaders responded with Levi dropping in the next five points. He muscled in a dunk at 7:10 and then a minute later got a layup to count and finished the three-point play at the foul line.
From that 61-52 advantage, Dallas built a commanding lead with 16-of-20 points scored. That scoring span ballooned to 24-6 from the 7:10 mark, as the Crusaders led by their greatest margin 22 (80-58).
Levi matched his personal-high from Thursday night's win over University of the Ozarks and had 15 of them in the second half. His 14 boards were a career-high, as the forward claimed his fourth double-double. Levi also shot 90.9 percent (10-11) in field goals – he entered Saturday 3rd nationally with a 78.7-clip – and went 5-for-5 at the charity stripe.
Besides Levi's sensational game, Colvin went 7-for-13 from the field to finish second among a quintet of double-digit scorers. Giadolor (12), Wambsganss (11), and Russell (10) were also in that mix. Wambsganss scored a team-high six free throws and was among four players to not miss at the free throw line – UD made its first 14 attempts. Russell notched a personal-best nine boards as he just missed a double-double.
Dallas shot 53.2 percent from the floor compared to 35.8 percent by JWU. The home team secured a 40-32 edge in rebounds and 20-9 edge in assists. Dallas boasted a 56-30 difference for points in the paint and scored 18 points on the fastbreak – 16 came in the last 20 minutes.
The Wildcats led 18-11 in second chance points and committed two fewer turnovers. Romero III made 10 field goals to tie a game-high 25 points.
Levi earned his record-breaking block at 13:34 in the second half. He surpassed the block record by three, as Andy Baker and Nik Birks were tied with the earlier mark, six. Baker set his on January 28th, 1988 and Birks achieved matching it on December 15th, 2001. The team record was nine blocks in that 1988 matchup against Austin College.
Coach Samples is the second coach for the UD men's basketball program to reach the 100-win plateau. He is 11 behind his predecessor, Brian Stanfield, who coached the current man at the helm.
The 5-1 start marks the best one since the 2014-15 team won seven in a row to open the campaign. Prior to that, the 2006-07 squad is the next team that matched such a start with a five-game winning streak after dropping the season opener.
Dallas enjoys a two-week break as the team focuses on end of the semester exams later next week. The Crusaders return to the court on Dec. 16th versus Colorado College for the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) opener. Tip-off is down for 1 p.m. with the men's team playing before the women's.