Red-hot Rams top Lions, 102-86
Wesleyan makes best-ever 72% of shots
Rambo's 34, Horne double-double not enough
FORT WORTH, Texas -- On a warm January night, the temperature inside the Sid Richardson Center was hotter than a polar bear at a cookout.
The Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team, already off to a blistering start to the new season, met their match in Texas Wesleyan University, the nation’s #7 ranked team. The Lions rolled for 86 points with three guards reaching double figures.
They were, however, trumped by the host Rams, 102-86, who scalded the ‘Cats with a record-setting 72.3 percent night. It topped their previous mark for a combined, team-shooting accuracy performance of 71.4, set during an 85-78 defeat of Oklahoma Christian University in the 2008-09 campaign.
For Southwestern (9-2), who entered the showdown in Cowtown toting a #27 ranking in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, it was their second straight speed bump after opening the season with nine consecutive wins. SAGU is now 3-2 in games against the Red River Athletic Conference.
Wesleyan is 9-3 overall and 4-1 in the RRAC. The Rams, 30-4 last winter, are a particularly tough nut to crack when playing at home. The win was their 24th in a row since Texas College (Feb. 4, 2010) beat them in the SRC. TWU is 56-1 there dating back to January of 2008.
Southwestern’s turnaround this season has largely been credited to their improvements on defense. Under new Head Coach Donnie Bostwick, the Lions had gone from one of the most porous units (86.6 points per game allowed) in the NAIA to the stingiest (67.6) in the Red River Athletic Conference.
Thursday’s effort by the Lions was scorched by the Rams, who made 34 of their 47 shots. In fact, Wesleyan was hotter when they were guarded than they were when unguarded on the foul line. Connecting on 61.5% (24 of 39 free throws), that figure pales compared with their accuracy during live action.
“My hat is off to Texas Wesleyan,” commented Coach Bostwick as he exited the locker room afterwards. “They made tough shots all night. And every time we made a (scoring) run at them, they answered with one of their own to stop us.”
“We still have a ways to go. That’s obvious after tonight. I am disappointed with our team defense tonight. We just didn’t get it done.”
He then praised the play of Ronnie Moss, Jr. and several of his teammates. “Their top players were just that tonight.”
The first half was tightly contested during the first 15 minutes. The score was tied twice and the lead changed hands six times.
A three-point basket by Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) followed a Moss turnover to draw SAGU to within 38-36 (5:18 to play). The Rams countered with a 3-ball by Jazz Holman, who then assisted a Moss layup and a triple to boost their advantage to 46-36. They finished the half on a 14-5 run for a 52-41 lead at recess.
The closest the Lions would come in the second half was four. SAGU outscored the Rams 12-5 in the opening 4:10 of the second stanza.
Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. N. Texas, Connally HS) collected a steal and fed Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ. N. Texas, Waco HS) for a knifing layup. Following a pair from the charity stripe by Ward, Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan, Trinity Christian – Cedar Hill) assisted a jumper by Christian Wood-Dvorak (Halletsville, Tx / Halletsville HS) at 17:38.
After a Moss tip-in, Rambo netted a layup and a midrange shot. Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / Oral Roberts Univ, Plano West HS) stole the ball from the Rams’ 6’8, 265-pound senior Eric Frederick. His pass to Guidry led to an inside deuce from Rambo to slice the deficit to 57-53.
Over the next 47 seconds Wesleyan replied with seven unanswered points, including a layup and a trey by Frederick, who was the NAIA’s national player of the week the previous week.
The Rams kept the Lions at bay the remainder of the game, though SAGU would not go away quietly.
Horne drove the baseline for a layup, Rambo penetrated the paint for a bucket and James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) swished a pair of FT’s to draw to within 68-61 with 12:49 showing. In the first half he converted a rare four-point play as he was fouled while launching a triple.
The Rams hit their next four shots to reestablish their lead at 79-63 with 9:28 to go. They were simply on top of their game and had an answer to every question.
A few memorable plays down the stretch for SAGU involved Craig Grigsby (Houston, Tx / Glenda Dawson HS) assisting a Rambo trifecta. Seconds later the Lions were within 10 again.
Rambo picked Moss’ pocket, drove inside and dished the rock to Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS), who surfaced from the baseline. Nwelue (New-WELL-a-way) grabbed the ball as he soared to the rack. He finished with a bodacious, two-fisted dunk (see photo), much to the delight of the many Southwestern fans who made the 45-minute trek along Highway 287.
The Lions stayed within eight to ten points of the lead on a Gibson strummed a three, Rambo sliced and diced for a layup, and a Horne lay-in thanks to a Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Christian) helper. That made it 93-83 with 2:42 left.
Wesleyan capped the game by closing the deal with a 9-3 surge, five points coming on foul shots.
SAGU's Cat Stats
SAGU was paced by Rambo, who poured in a career-best 34 points. He made 14 of 22 shots, with four treys and four assists. Horne fought through an off-night shooting to register a double-double; 10 points and 10 rebounds. He also led the Purple Pride with six assists.
The Lions bench, who outscored their Ram counterparts, 26-24, were sparked by Ford’s 10 points.
Ward added eight points and three steals, though foul trouble limited him to 13 minutes.
As a team the Lions shot 40% (33 of 82) from the field, but were good on just 20% (8 of 39) beyond the arc. Missing 10 of their 22 foul shots didn’t help. The squad did well protecting ball, making just 12 turnovers while forcing the Rams into 24.
Wesleyan drained 16 of their 21 second half shots (76.2%) to prevent the Lions from staging a comeback. They also bucketed 10 of 19 tries from long distance.
After holding a 22-20 edge on the boards in the first half, the horned hoopsters ended with a 43-35 margin. SAGU held a whopping 20-7 margin on the offensive glass. The reason the Rams could pull down so few boards on offense was simple; there weren't many misses.
TWU was led by Moss, a 6’2 guard, who equaled Rambo with 34 points. The transfer from Texas Christian University, where he was a 1,000 point scorer, was good on 12 of his 15 shots and eight of nine free throws.
Frederick, who came to TWU from Florida International University, also an NCAA D-I transfer, capped a solid night with 21 points. He made six of 10 shots, eight of eleven FT’s while dominating the paint with 15 rebounds. Brian Talley tallied 12 and Stephane Mudiay (MOO-dee-A) came off the bench to add 11.
CATurday: Langston Lions vs SAGU Lions
SAGU returns to court on Saturday, January 7, when they take on Oklahoma’s Langston University at 7:30pm. The LU Lions are 3-8 overall and 3-3 in the RRAC after routing Paul Quinn College, 80-62, on Thursday. They have won 3-of-5 since beinning 0-6.
Langston is rebuilding under new head coach Nigel (NIE-jel) Thomas. Their roster has six freshmen, four sophomores, eight juniors and a lone senior. That senior, 6’8 Nate Barfield, leads the 'Cats in scoring at 15.5 ppg and rebounding, averaging 10.4 caroms per contest.
Thomas, a former standout player at Langston, graduated in 2003. He is a native of Chicago, Illinois, which is evident by three players from the Windy City and another trio from Detroit. Twelve of LU’s 15 players come from outside of Oklahoma.
The series during the past three seasons is tied at 3-3, though SAGU has won 3-of-4, all by 10 points or less. Since 2003, Langston holds an 8-6 edge between the schools.
Langston is 246 miles north of Dallas and 42 miles north of Oklahoma City. It is the only historically black college in the state and has over 3,900 students enrolled.
Two of their most well-known alumni are Marques Haynes (Harlem Globetrotters) and Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson (Dallas Cowboys).
High Definition Broadcast
The game will be broadcast in HD by SAGU SPORTS Live. Fans can access the free livestream by clicking on the Watch SAGUtv button at www.sagu.edu website.
It is also “Community Night,” sponsored by Chicken Express, with local residents receiving free admission to the game.