The men’s basketball team entered the season with high hopes after falling short in the American Southwest Conference tournament last year.
It has been four years since the team won the ASC Tournament and last entered the NCAA Divison III Nationals. The team lost in the semifinal match of the ASC Tournament after finishing the season with an overall score of 19-8. The season started Nov. 10 in a homecoming match where the Comets beat Hendrix 104-60. The team lost to Southwestern two days later with a final score of 61-76. Head coach Terry Butterfield said the team’s performance both days was a learning opportunity.
“It was a good beginning for us, with a really good atmosphere in the gym,” Butterfield said. “The game against Southwestern was the complete opposite, but sometimes you grow more from a loss and we’re treating it as such.”
The team has no seniors this year but 10 members from the previous season returned. The returning players include junior guard Dimitrius Underwood, who appeared in all 27 games last season and scored several career highs, including scoring 35 points in a single game. Underwood opened the season by winning 19 points for the team and added 14 rebounds in the game against Hendrix. Butterfield said that though the team is made mostly of returning students, the group is still adjusting to its new dynamic.
“I think that we’re still in a feeling out process, seeing who fits in where,” Butterfield said. “One of our biggest emphasis during the preseason was defense, and in particular, individual defense and rebounding.”
The team started a five-game winning streak during the fall break, beating Schreiner on Nov. 19 with a final score of 93-56. It then followed with a close game against Hardin-Simmons on Nov. 21 that ended 72-71. Butterfield said that the game came down to the wire for the team.
“It was a back and forth the entire time,” Butterfield said. “It came down to that last shot at the end and we were able to defend it.”
On Nov. 24 the team went up against Whitworth, one of the top 25 teams in the nation in Division III, where the Comets won 88-79 with four players — including Underwood and Burwitz — putting up double digits. The success was followed by two more victories including beating last season’s ASC champions, Sul Ross State, 83-50.
The men’s basketball team will continue to play for the remainder of the semester and into the winter break, with key ASC games taking place against McMurry on Dec. 31 and East Texas Baptist on Jan. 10.