ABILENE — Holding No. 16 Hardin-Simmons University to just four made baskets in the second half, No. 20 East Texas Baptist University won its second NCAA Division III top 20 showdown of the year, 56-51.

ETBU is now 11-3 overall and 7-2 in the American Southwest Conference. HSU was held to just eight points in the third quarter and nine points in the fourth quarter on 16% shooting.

Mallory Stephens was the only player in double figures with 14 points and had seven rebounds. Kaia Williams added nine points while Taylor Singleton had nine points, a career-high 12 rebounds, and two assists. Mollie Dittmar recorded 10 rebounds. Brittany Schnabel had 16 points for HSU.

Both teams shot 32 percent from the floor and ETBU made 23 percent from the arc while HSU was at 28 percent. ETBU hit 78 percent of its free throws and HSU made 61 percent. ETBU out rebounded HSU, 47-33, forcing 21 turnovers with 11 steals.

It was a fast first quarter and the most productive as 42 combined points were scored with HSU leading 22-20 at the end. HSU took a six-point lead, 15-9, just over four minutes into the game. ETBU had the lead down to one, twice, 17-16 on a Mallory Stephens layup and 19-18 on a Grace Stephens layup. HSU went up 22-18 before Bridget Upton banked in a lay up with no time left in the quarter down two, 22-20.

ETBU stayed close in the second quarter taking a two-point lead, 27-25, at the 6:45 mark on a Williams three-pointer. HSU responded with a 4-0 run over four and half minutes for a 31-27 lead. Brooke Webster had a lay up with 2:22 left to come within two, 31-29, but the Tigers didn’t make a shot in the final two minutes to trail by five at the half, 34-29.

It became a defensive struggle in the second half for both teams with ETBU putting together the stingiest defense. In the third quarter, HSU went 2-of-10 making one three-pointer and going 3-of-4 from the stripe. It took HSU almost five minutes to score in the third quarter. ETBU opened with four points in two and half minutes for a three-point lead, 37-34.

Stephens had the layup for the three-point lead with 7:31 to go. In a minute time span from 5:28 to 4:20, HSU hit both of their shots from the floor for a two-point lead, 39-37. Williams tied the game at 39 but HSU took a three-point lead 42-39, with 2:35 left. Grace Stephens tied the game at 42 with 2:07 left and then Dittmar had an offensive putback for the two-point lead to end the third up, 44-42.

ETBU didn’t allow HSU to make any three-pointers in the fourth quarter holding them to just 16 percent shooting overall. In the first minute and half, ETBU pushed their lead to eight points, 50-42, with six straight points. Two free throws from Hanna Hudson, a layup from Mallory Stephens, and an offensive second chance by Singleton gave ETBU its largest lead. HSU made a jumper at the 8:08 mark to come within six as it didn’t make a shot from the floor until the 1:58 mark. In that six minutes, ETBU also did not make a bucket as HSU tied the game at 50 with 1:50 left to play.

Stephens broke the offensive silence with a lay up for the lead, again, and then Singleton hit a three-pointer for a four-point lead, 55-51, with 29 seconds to go. Williams made one-of-two from the line with seven seconds left to ice the game and win, 56-51.

ETBU will stay in Abilene and face McMurry University on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Kimbrell Arena. McMurry is still winless on the year and ETBU won 77-33 in the first match up in December. ETBU has won the last eight meetings as McMurry last won on December 3, 2016, 63-51.

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