ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The University of Dallas men's basketball team endured a scoreless stretch allowed Fontbonne University to take its first lead of the second half with under seven minutes left. However, the Crusaders countered with a 19-5 run in the last 5:26 minutes of regulation to secure a 79-66 victory on Saturday night. That scoring outburst was aided by a stingy defense that limited the Griffins to just one point the last 2:13.
Spencer Levi (St. Louis, Mo.) had a nice showing for his hometown, as he boasted a career scoring performance for the third straight game of his freshman season with a game-high 20 points. Levi tied a personal-high 12 rebounds to notch his second double-double of the young season.
Michael Wambsganss (Denver, Colo.) stayed hot from three-point distance with five sank to contribute to his 17 points overall. Coming off a 20 point performance to start the road swing, the freshman rattled off 11 points in the second half with eight during in a three-minute span of that late game-changing run.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Crusaders struggled out of the tip to find points and shot 2-for-10 from the field to start play. Emmanuel Calton (Keller, Texas) registered the first points by either side at 18:13 in the contest. However, Fontbonne posted the next five points and led until the later stages of the stanza. Part of the early success for the Griffins was due to their three-point shooting. They hit 50 percent through the first eight attempts, which included back-to-back by Tristan Baker and Luke DeLine to open the largest lead of the game for the home squad 21-15 about halfway until the break.
Wambsganss nipped the margin to 23-22 with his first trey at 7:47 remaining. He followed a turnover by FBU on the next play with his other field goal that half from distance to lift the Crusaders to their first lead since the early 2-0 start. Prior to the team's leading three-point shooter finding twine, John Russell (Bossier City, La.) posted a layup at 8:51 left to spark an eventual 19-8 run that carried to 3:04. Isaiah Hayes (Arlington, Texas) dished assists on two of the first three plays during that span.
Darrius Colvin (Waco, Texas) had an old fashioned three-point play to open a 36-29 advantage and cap the first big scoring difference of the game. After a trifecta by Fontbonne's Thomas Ritter, Levi responded by hauling down an offensive rebound and then got fouled on the layup. His free throw gave UD consecutive three-point plays of that variety.
Dallas' biggest lead of the first stayed at seven, with Dustin Mathis (Fort Worth, Texas) making a jumper with 17 seconds to result in that final margin of the frame. The road team entered intermission up 41-35 after the Griffins split at the line for the final scoring result.
Layups by Prince Giadolor (Rockwall, Texas) and Levi pushed the lead to double-digits for the first time by either side in the game a minute into the second half. Despite the Crusaders early lead in the second half, Fontbonne closed the gap to 46-43 four minutes in after Kris McCann drilled a three.
After UD stretched the advantage back to eight (55-47) on an ally-oop dunk from Colvin to Levi on the right side in the paint, the Griffins answered back with their best offensive run of the second. Field goals were exchanged before DeLine put down a trey to make it a 57-52 game with just over 10 minutes remaining. DeLine followed that play with a steal and then sent a pass to McCann and bring the score to one possession. Wambsganss stalled the run with a long-range shot at 9:05.
The Griffins netted the next seven points in a row to gain their first lead of the half 61-60. Baker's three-pointer made it a one-point game a minute after UD last scored and then James Wiggins hit the go-ahead jumper at 6:46.
Over three minutes passed without any points for the Crusaders, but a layup by Levi at 5:26 started a scoring run that would have plenty to support the team's third straight win. Wambsganss dished the assist on the Levi field goal that made it 62-61. The Crusaders never trailed after as the guard pulled down the next defensive rebound and buried a three-pointer at 4:53. Calton handed the assist and after both squads traded a pair of points, the senior came away with a huge steal that led to a fastbreak layup by UD's second half leading scorer, Wambsganss. His final trey of the game at 1:55 came in the left corner in front of UD's bench. It opened a final eight-point scoring stretch that belonged to the Crusaders.
Fontbonne, who fell to 0-3, scored its final field goal of the game at 2:46 on a layup by DeLine to make it a four-point game (69-65). UD was too much in the end as 10 of the last 11 points put the game away for the team in navy and white.
Russell and Colvin completed a quartet of double-digit scorers for the Crusaders with 12 points apiece. Colvin came up with four of the seven steals for Dallas. Calton tied a career-high five assists, which he last did his sophomore year at Southwestern University (January 9th, 2016).
The Crusaders shot 53.3 percent (16-30) in the second half and finished 47.1 percent overall from the field. This bettered FBU's 41.8-clip. They held a slight edge in rebounds (38-36). Both teams received 27 points from the reserves. Dallas utilized a 48-24 scoring edge on points in the paint and doubled the Griffins in second chance points 16-8. UD also held a 21-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
DeLine led the Griffins with 14 points off the bench. McCann followed with 13 and Erich Schark posted 10 to go with a team-high eight boards. Fontbonne made nine field goals from deep, but were 36 percent (9-25) overall.
During that massive scoring surge for the Crusaders with under five and a half, Wambsganss (8 points), Russell (6), and Levi (4) and combined for 18 points. Colvin's free throw was the only point that came outside that trio.
Wambsgram leads the team with 12 made three-pointers and has 11 over the two road games. The past two seasons, only once has a player from UD connected on five three-pointers in a contest. Wambsgram has achieved the feat both times with six and five, respectively.
Head Coach Jarred Samples earned his 98th career win.
The Crusaders last went 3-0 to start a season in 2014-15 when they opened with seven straight wins en route to tying a program-best 18 total. The previous season before that historic year when the team went unblemished in the first three contests was 2003-04 (four in a row).
3rd victory in a row for @CoachSamplesUD and @UDallasMBB! 79-66 over @FBUGriffins. Always terrific to reconnect with the great traditions and people of @UDallasSports. Keep it rollin' guys!!! pic.twitter.com/Jj40nj2Sn4— harry hamm (@harrykmox) November 26, 2017
Dallas concludes the road trip at Illinois College on Sunday. First tip is slated at 1 p.m.