Lions take 'charge,' top Langston, 67-58
SAGU (10-2) plays Texas College on Monday
Grigsby trey, jazzed-up Horne rise to the occasion
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Led by an improved defensive effort, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team defeated Langston University, 67-58, on Saturday night in a Red River Athletic Conference game.
SAGU led from start to finish in elevating their overall record to 10-2 and their conference mark to 4-2. Langston, who had won three of their previous five games, fell to 3-9 and 3-4 in the RRAC.
After getting off to a 9-0 start this season under new Head Coach Donnie Bostwick, the Lions dropped consecutive road games to #23 ranked Our Lady of the Lake University (10-3, 7-0) and #7 Texas Wesleyan University (10-2, 5-1).
The Lions defense in those games was not considered for an instructional video as they allowed 98 and 102 points. Saturday, however, was another story.
SAGU was #27 in the most recent Coaches Poll by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The next poll will be released on Monday afternoon, January 9.
The Lions will take on Texas College that evening in Tyler, Texas in the Gus F. Taylor Gymnasium. Tip-off is set for 7:30pm. There will be no video livestream or livestats (textual play-by-play over the internet). Results will be posted here immediately following the game. The Steers gave Texas Wesleyan a big challenge on Saturday, but came up short, 83-76.
Langston Game Review
Against a Langston squad that displayed more heart than a Valentine’s Day card, SAGU had to grind out the victory as the visitors’ defense kept them in the game.
The host Lions grabbed a 13-4 lead on the strong play of sophomore guards Craig Grigsby (Houston, Tx / Glenda Dawson HS) and Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ, Trinity Christian – Cedar Hill). Each time the visiting Lions knocked on the door with a scoring run, Southwestern answered with a clutch reply.
Limiting Langston to 8-of-28 shooting (28%) in the first half led to a 30-22 halftime advantage.
SAGU extended their upper-hand to 38-28 on a lasered three-ball by James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) with 16:35 to play.
LU then assembled a gutsy, 9-1 run over the next 4:20. They made 3-of-5 shots and 3-of-4 free throws, with all of their points coming from Nate Barfield and Modteets Williams. SAGU coughed up the ball twice and took four errant shots, all threes.
Langston had carved their shortage to two, at 39-37, with 11:53 showing on the clock.
Momentum was seen entering the changing room carrying a bright orange jersey.
Grigsby, a gritty player eaten up with hops and hurry, peeked in his head and handed “Mo” a hanger.
Grigsby's shot to the heart
Seventeen seconds later Grigsby ripped the nets from beyond the arc for his second trifecta of the night. It may as well been a dagger.
“Our guys battled so hard all night,” said Langston’s first year Head Coach Nigel Thomas. “The defense our men played was strategic and we took some chances. Against SAGU it’s like picking your poison as they have so many good shooters.”
“When we drew to within two, Grigsby killed us with that ‘three’ from the corner,” Thomas added. “I could tell from our guys’ heads (expressions) that that one hurt. Playing aggressive D has been our M.O. all season.”
Southwestern then added to the lead as Horne trumpeted in all ten of his points in the next few minutes to effectively seal the deal. His acrobatic three-point play with 8:21 gave Team Purp a 51-42 advantage.
While Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) and Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS) did light up the home crowd with breakaway jams, it was a non-scoring play that was perhaps the most memorable.
Horne missed a shot in traffic in the closing minutes. Langston turned the rebound into a quick outlet pass that was sent to a player alone on the baseline. Just as he launched a three-ball from the corner, Horne, like Doc Severinsen, hit the high note by swatting it out of bounds.
The team co-captain, whose shot hasn’t quite found its customary groove, said as much after the game. “It’s going to get there. I am not worried about it, though,” he quipped. “We’re winning. And we’re playing better D.”
As for his scoring surge that seized control of the game he said, “I was happy to make the shots. I was also glad to see Chris (Wood-Dvorak, Halletsville, Tx / Halletsville HS) and Jon (Walter) take so many charges too.”
Rambo knifed inside for a lay-in and a 63-50 lead moments later.
Coach Bostwick: "Holding the Standard high"
“I loved seeing our guys pull together and outwork a well-coached, hardworking Langston team,” Coach Bostwick said afterwards. “I am guessing we set a record by drawing seven or eight charging fouls on the night.”
“We are still trying to get our legs back from the three week break,” he quipped. “It has really hurt our shooting the past few games. But tonight we did play much better 'team defense.' We are getting better and just want to focus on enjoying the journey.”
“Depth is a wonderful thing. It allows our staff to hold the standard high on both ends of the floor (offense and defense). That will help us over a long conference season.”
The game was played at a fast pace and was physical. Fifty-six fouls were called, the team totals separated by just one. Both squads had 30 free throws; SAGU made 20, LU 18, and each team shot 36% from the floor.
Southwestern’s contagious hustle may have been the difference. The Purple Pride out boarded the taller, visiting Lions by a 39-29 margin, including 13-6 on the offensive glass. SAGU made 16 turnovers while forcing 21.
“I only wish we could have played the first half with the same energy level we had in the second,” admitted LU’s Coach Thomas. “This game requires so much attention to detail and we had a few lapses. But we’re making strides.”
He described his team’s plan to feed 6-foot-8 Barfield with the hopes of getting Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Connally HS) to pick up some fouls. It worked as he played just nine minutes before fouling out.
“He is a very talented rebounder,” Thomas pointed out. “With him on the bench it opened up some opportunities for us. But Horne and Grigsby, we couldn’t keep them off the boards. They are both so scrappy.”
“Horne is an All-Conference performer who is still a threat,” he continued. “But you have to key on Rambo, since he is running the point. When they needed it, Horne came through.”
Rambo led all scorers with 19 points, with Grigsby and Horne netting 16 and 10. Walter and Ford were credited with nine and seven points respectively.
Horne narrowly missed his second straight double-double, finishing with nine rebounds. Grigsby, at 5’10, latched onto eight caroms. The two each had three offensive boards.
Barfield scored 18, making 10-of-14 foul shots in the process. He had a game-high 13 boards, but no one else in orange had more than three. Paul Campbell struggled to find his touch, missing 11 of his 14 shots. He ended the game with 10. Williams and David Harris each tossed in nine points.
Langston’s Thomas had more complimentary words for SAGU.
As a former LU player and assistant coach before succeeding Greg Webb, praised the Southwestern fans. “The crowds here are always good. It’s clean, fun and a good environment. You guys do it well.”
He also made an effort to mention his counterpart, Coach Bostwick.
“I have so much respect for him,” he said. “I respect how he leads a team and what he stands for.”