Both men’s and women’s basketball endured losses at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III national championships after they won their respective regional American Southwest Conference tournaments.
The No. 18-ranked women’s team, led by head coach Polly Thomason since 2005, has been to the NCAA championships for the last three seasons.
“The consistency is due to the players work ethic, that’s the biggest thing,” Thomason said. “These student athletes have an incredible mindset just to come in every day and improve their skill set.”
The women’s team’s first loss of the season was against Mary-Hardin Baylor, who Thomason said is the team’s toughest competitor. The last game of the season for UTD was also against Mary-Hardin in the second round of the NCAA championships. The Comets lost 66-57.
“Our shooting percentages were a little inconsistent,” Thomason said. “I think that’s what we could have worked on, but I am really proud of the team and how far they’ve come.”
In the first 10 minutes of the NCAA game, Mary-Hardin was able to build a double-digit lead while the Comets missed 13 shots from the field. Mary Hardin led 33-16 by halftime. However, junior guard Victoria Peña kept the score close, and she was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“I feel really honored to get that title, I think there were other girls that could have gotten it,” Peña said. “Every single one of them pushed me to get better every day and helped me stay motivated through the whole season.”
The men’s basketball team also started strong back in November, defeating Hendrix College 104-60. Junior guards Curtis Allen and Dimitrius Underwood were the game leaders and have remained strong players throughout the season. The men’s team defeated Hardin-Simmons on Feb. 23, making them the ASC champions.
Head coach Terry Butterfield has trained the team since 2000. He has led the team to the NCAA DIII championships six times during his time at UTD.
“I think our boys really rose to the occasion,” Butterfield said in his post-ASC championship game interview. “This all has to do with our boys’ preparation and them being ready to go when the ball is thrown up.”
Dimitrius Underwood was later named Most Valuable Player of the ASC Tournament.
“The team just being mentally focused during the game makes my job a whole lot easier,” Underwood said. “We have so many weapons, the defense couldn’t just focus on me. We had a lot of other players knocking down shots, too, which made it easier on me.”
The men’s team lost to Pomona-Pitzer in the first round of the NCAA championships on March 1. The No. 11 Pomona-Pitzer team beat the Comets 58-37, advancing to the next round. Pomona-Pitzer led the game 30-16 by halftime. UTD was able to shrink the difference to 13 points twice during the game, but once the score reached 50-37 with three minutes left in the game, the Comets did not successfully shoot again, ending the game with a shooting percentage of 21.2.
The men’s team ended its season with an overall record of 24-5, while the women’s team finished with a record of 25-5. Both teams scored over 2,000 points and steadily increased their points per game as the season progressed.