Lions win, 66-52, now 2-0
Defense does a number on Cavaliers
Grigsby leads four players in double-figures
SHAWNEE, Oklahoma -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team outscored St. Gregory’s University 18-4 down the stretch en route to a 66-52 triumph on Saturday. The victory spoiled the homecoming of the host Cavaliers, who had upset the nation’s #4 ranked LSU-Shreveport team, 79-75, the night before.
In a game marked by defensive intensity, Southwestern utilized rebounding, speed and hustle to overcome an off-shooting night. The Jungle Kings connected on just 29% of their tries.
“We didn’t even come close to playing our best basketball, offensively,” admitted new head coach Donnie Bostwick , “but we outworked ‘em. Don't worry, our offense will eventually catch up.”
The win gave SAGU its third 2-0 start in the past nine years, though none of those teams finished with a winning record. A year ago the team was known for offense, scoring 80.4 points per game. That figure ranked the Lions #17 nationally of the 120 teams in the NAIA’s Division I. Defense, though, was another story. SAGU yielded 86.6 ppg to rate #118 in the country.
While St. Gregory’s shooters made 41% of their attempts, it was the man-to-man pressure applied by the Lions that was the difference. Led by their ballhawking backcourt, SAGU forced 24 turnovers and made 13 steals. A quick frontline controlled the boards, grabbing a 46-39 share of the rebounds.
They were especially effective in limiting the Cavs to one shot on offense. SAGU allowed only four offensive rebounds while ripping down a whopping 20 of their own misses.
Behind a solid team effort, the squad made numerous defensive plays when the game was being decided in the second half. It prompted comparisons to the Texas Rangers’ version of the “claw” and “antlers,” with a list of critical plays the result of quickness, effort and determination.
The most memorable play came in the latter stages of the second half. SAGU, who led at intermission, 34-24, had seen a 14-point lead erased by a crowd-induced St. Gregory’s rally. The score was tied at 48 with eight minutes remaining on the clock. The Cavaliers had the momentum, the ball and were seeking to move ahead.
Enter Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS). The 6-foot-4 freshman guard pilfered a pass and fired a quick, fastbreak outlet. The Lions zoomed downcourt in search of an answer to the Cavs’ comeback. They found it in Walter.
As a trailer in transition, the former Garland "Owl" was 'spotted on the wing.' Walter stroked a crucial three-pointer that silenced the crowd as it tickled the twine.
A minute later Nathaniel Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ of N. Texas, Connally HS) grabbed an offensive carom and scored on a put-back as the Lions reasserted their lead.
“It was just one his eight offensive boards,” praised Coach Bostwick. “I tell you, Duce was flying!” The high-energy of the defending NAIA rebound champion was never more evident than during another play he would rather forget.
The 6’5 junior swooped in and snared a rebound on the offensive glass. In one motion he jammed a two-fisted dunk so hard that he landed partially on his head. It had nothing to do with the 5.6 magnitude earthquake experienced in central Oklahoma.
But it did rock the SAGU bench and left a bump on his bean.
It was also nullified when an official said the ball was still above the cylinder when he grabbed it. “I didn’t agree with the call,” Bostwick said, “but I loved his effort!”
The Lions missed a few other jams until their leader, senior Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ of N. Texas, Waco HS), known as the “Flyin’ Lion,” demonstrated how it’s done. His breakaway slam effectively turned out the lights on the Cavaliers in the closing minutes.
Bostwick was high on the play of sophomore guard Craig Grigsby (Houston, Tx / Glenda Dawson HS), whom he said “was the best” on this night.
SAGU had four players in double-figures, led by Grigsby, who had 13-points. He had one three-ball, three rebounds, a pair of assists, and a steal and made 6-of-8 from the foul line. But it was his defense on Gregory’s leading scorer, whom he held to 11-points, that was most impressive.
Horne tossed in 12-points, latched onto seven rebounds and registered an assist and one theft.
Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ, Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill) followed up on his 31-point Friday feat, by bucketing a dozen, pulling down seven boards, dishing out two helpers and making five more steals. He had ten the previous night when SAGU held off University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) by a 69-66 count.
Ward had a double-double, netting 10 points and seizing 11 rebounds.
“He was everywhere,” explained Bostwick, including the bench, where had to sit due to foul troubles. “He had good numbers and only played 22 minutes,” the coach added.
Walter finished with eight points, six boards and three steals. He personified the Lions’ team-effort by taking three charging calls. In fact, SAGU drew four charges against the Cavaliers in the final six minutes.
Christian Wood-Dvorak (Halletsville, Tx / Halletsville HS) tossed in five points and three boards and Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Christian-Addison) bagged four points.
The Lions played ten players, with no one collecting more than 30 minutes.
SAGU made 17-of-24 free throws and were good on seven of 31 three-pointers. Meanwhile, SGU hit 13-of-20 on the charity stripe and just one out of 13 from long distance. Though the Purple Pride didn’t fare as well as desired from the field, they did limit their turnovers. SAGU committed just 13.
Southwestern returned from the hometown of Brad Pitt, admitting they felt the pair of earthquakes that hit the area overnight. The quake shook their Comfort Inn hotel, though the coach said it had nothing to do with his team’s post-game celebration.
Lions Menu: Crusaders, Warriors
The Lions will be back in action on Tuesday, November 8, when they play at Dallas Christian College in Richardson. The tipoff is set for 7:30pm.
They will make their home debut next Saturday at 5:30pm against Sterling College (Neb). The game will follow the SAGU Classic, which will feature the Lady Lions and Oklahoma Christian University at 3:30pm.