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Sports Report

B-ball teams bow out in first round of tourney
Written by Zach Hurdle
Reprinted with permission from UTD Mercury

Second-half troubles push men's basketball out of the first round of ASC tournament for third year in a row with loss to University of Concordia-Texas 89-78.

The Comets' strong 17-win season came to a close after a disappointing second half performance in the first round of the ASC Championship Tournament against Concordia-Texas Feb. 29.

UTD went into the tournament as the third seed after a regular season that was one win short of the school-record 18 wins set last year.

The Comets pitted a 13-7 conference record against what Head Coach Terry Butterfield called an unpredictable team.

"It was a tough opening round," Butterfield said. "They do a lot of crazy things, a lot of random trapping and doubling the ball. I guess what people would call 'unsound' methods."

Concordia (18-8) was playing in their first ever post-season game since joining the ASC in 1999. UTD came out strong in the game, taking an eight-point lead into halftime after a late defensive surge led by business administration freshman Jimmy Witten.

Witten had a double-double in the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He had four rebounds, one steal and an assist in the final three and a half minutes.

The second half was a different story. Despite the Comets' top-ranked defense within the conference, the team couldn't keep it up, allowing 60 points in the second half compared to only 29 in the first.

"It's just not desirable," Butterfield said. "We all want better."

The team also couldn't keep up the points off of turnovers. UTD had an 11-6 advantage in the first half, but gave up a 15-7 margin in the second.

Another factor that influenced the game was the Comets' very poor three-point shooting. UTD shot three of 26 from the arc, and made no three-pointers in the second half.

UTD did have five players in double digits, including accounting and information management senior Ernie Lowery who got 21 points.

Meanwhile, Brad Walker of Concordia lit up the board with 28 points and 15 rebounds, 20 of those points in the 60-point surge Concordia had in the second half.

"No one wants to work their way to the conference tournament and play it out in one night," Butterfield said. "But we can tuck our tail between our legs or work on next year to be better."

A high point to the season was UTD's ability to replace their scoring and assist leaders who graduated last spring, Martin Salinas and Travis Carruthers.

"Despite the losses, we were still able to somewhat replace key guys," Butterfield said. "And we still won 17 games."

Concordia eventually went on to the ASC Championship game against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor before UMHB was crowned champion 82-73.

The first-round loss was an all-too-familiar story, as UTD has lost in the first round the past three seasons, the first two years by just one point each.

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