Wiley stings SAGU, 70-68
Lions (11-3) lose late, 64-60 lead
Wiley coach Andre Payne praises SAGU fans
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- In a game filled with big plays, Wiley College rallied for a 70-68 triumph over Southwestern Assemblies of God University in a physical, exhilarating thriller played before a near packed Sheaffer Full Life Center.
The match-up of teams both receiving votes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Top 25 Coaches Poll, the Wildcats snapped a late 66-all tie on a dunk by Kenny LaGuerre to come away with a hard-fought win in the Red River Athletic Conference.
SAGU suffered their first home setback after winning their first five inside the friendly confines of the Sheaffer Center.
The team’s record slid to 11-3, with each defeat coming against a nationally ranked opponent. In dropping to sixth in the RRAC at 5-3, the team has lost three-of-five since their 9-0 start.
The visiting Wildcats, now 10-4, are 6-3 in league play. They have won seven of their last eight games.
Southwestern was in arrears 44-37 with fifteen minutes remaining. They rose up during a 27-16 rush to claim a 64-60 lead with 6:14 to play.
Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ. N.Texas, Waco HS) had a pair of acrobatic scoring drives to put SAGU on top and Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) followed a missed three-point attempt by Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan, Trinity Christian – Cedar Hill) with a monster dunk and the four-point lead.
Wiley head coach, Andre Payne was forced to call a time-out as the crowd was going crazy and the momentum swaying.
Tenacious described the closing six minutes where both teams missed numerous opportunities against growling defenses.
The Lions finished by making one of their final eight shots while Wiley went two-of-five. On the foul line, SAGU converted 2-of-4 compared to Wiley trying 16 free throws. They made only five of them. There were just three turnovers in that time span, two by the host Lions.
SAGU had a 66-63 advantage when Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS), who had stroked a 3-ball earlier, bolted down the right side of the lane to go up 66-63 with 4:27 showing. They would not get another basket the rest of the night.
Wiley's Christopher Tolbert fed Jerald Ardoin who tied the contest with a money shot trifecta from the top of the key with 4:10 to play.
Then, following a Rambo miss, came the game’s decisive field goal. Senior guard Richard Simon misfired only to have LaGuerre (like La Gary) clean-up by jamming a two-hander through the rack for a lead they would not relinquish at the 3:24 mark.
The teams traded free throws, with Walter draining a pair for SAGU. The Lions, down by 70-68, had six possessions in the final eighty seconds.
An errant inbounds pass turned into a backcourt violation. Then, Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) was off the mark from 15 feet before a Walter trey went begging as it rimmed out.
Horne, the All-Conference senior guard, was tripped while driving the baseline. The ball rolled away with a no call from the officials. After missed Wildcats free throws came the game’s biggest defensive play.
Grigsby, a fearless sophomore guard, fired an open 14-footer from the right wing in a bid to knot the score. Ardoin (AR-dwahn) jumped like a trout at a mayfly to block the shot with 0:12 on the clock.
Still, the Wildcats missed another pair of freebies on the line, giving SAGU another chance.
Horne got the rebound and zoomed coast-to-coast. He knifed the left side of the paint with a defender draped tight as skin on a grape. His left-handed layup was short and the expected whistle went silent with three seconds remaining.
Wildcats steal one on the road
“Another night in the Red River,” said a relieved Coach Payne as he exited the Wiley locker room. “This was huge for us. This conference is in the top three nationally, in my opinion. Anybody can beat you. Tonight we were able to steal one on the road from a team that has been playing very well.”
“We had just lost a tough one at home (to St. Thomas), so we had to make up for it on the road,” he surmised.
“I will tell you this,” said the coach of a team that was ranked for the first time since their NAIA playoff team of 2007 (they were #15 that season), “Coach (Donnie) Bostwick has done an excellent job here. His team doesn’t have a lot of size, but the size of their heart is incredible! They go for rebounds and loose balls with great heart.”
“The Lions simply don’t give up. I mean, they all dive for loose balls,” he added.
Southwestern outscored Wiley from the field, making five more baskets (24 to 19), including three more triples (8-5). They also had more rebounds than the clearly taller Wildcats, 47-42, with a 17-15 edge on the offensive glass. Both teams had less than twenty turnovers.
Free throws offset Lions shooting, rebounding edge
The difference was in Wiley’s ability to get to the foul line. Payne attributed that to his team’s advantage in height and their superior inside game. SAGU was cited for 31 fouls compared to 20 called against the guests. Three Lions fouled out.
It resulted in 46 free throw attempts for the Wildcats, of which they made 27 (59%). They were 17 of 29 in the second half. SAGU was 12-of-18 with nine tries in each half.
Home loss stings, says Coach Bostwick
Coach Bostwick refused to mention the huge free throw disparity in his post-game comments.
“It was our first home loss in almost sixty games for one of my teams,” he explained, linking SAGU and Oklahoma Wesleyan University, where he served for four years. “I take the blame. We were not prepared defensively to get the big stops we needed.”
“Things like poor inbound plays and rushed shots reflect on me,” he said. “We had a four point lead and a great crowd. We had worked super hard to get to that point with a lead.”
“There is an art to finishing games at that point; with (defensive) stops, rebounds and making free throws. Getting five-second calls, backcourt violations, and fouling late are all things that we simply should be prepared to avoid,” he continued.
“We have a long ways to go but losing at home stings. Shooting in the low 30's (.348) makes you have to work so hard to win games. In some ways I was proud of my guys for giving us a shot but we have to get better and hold ourselves accountable.”
He piped up with grin and added, “I was thrilled to see our ladies team pull out a hard fought victory. Coach (Arlon) Beadles and his girls competed to the end. It was great to see. Hopefully we can both hold home court on Saturday.”
On Deck: Paul Quinn College at home on Saturday
Southwestern plays host to Paul Quinn College at 7:30pm in the Sheaffer Center.
The Tigers, from Dallas, are 4-9 overall and 3-5 in the RRAC. They swept both meetings last year, 71-68 in overtime and 88-85 at SAGU. The series is tied, 3-3, in the past three years, with PQC taking the last three.
SAGU placed four players in double digits. Rambo led with 14, followed by Nwelue 13, Walter 11 and Horne with 10. The starting line-up outscored the Stash Cats (reserves) 38-30, though they struggled from the field (25%), connecting on 12-of-47.
Horne and Nwelue (new-WELL-a-way) each grabbed nine rebounds, with the former latching on to seven offensive boards.
Ward had six caroms in just 13 minutes before fouling out. Grigsby netted nine points and led in assists.
Wiley was paced by LaGuerre, a 6’9 junior from Houston. He totaled 18 points, 11 rebounds and blocked six shots. Simon and Ardoin each scored 10, with the latter claiming 11 boards and two blocks, including the one at the end.
“It was an excellent block,” Coach Payne said. “It was absolutely crucial. We had to have it.”
He said the turning point for his team was when they had fallen behind 64-60. “I had to call a time out. The (Nwelue) dunk allowed the crowd to really get into the game.”
Now in his sixth season in Marshall, the coach said the adjustments they made during that one-minute break included trying to get his offense back to attacking inside and to step-up their perimeter defense.
“Simon was able to get inside and both LaGuerre and Ardoin had great games,” he said. “We were able to get crucial rebounds when we needed them. Against SAGU, with so many good shooters, you must defend the three-point line.”
Southwestern fans have swagger
He went on to compliment to SAGU crowd.
“This is the first time in my years here that the atmosphere was like this. They have always been supportive of their team. But this group is different,” Coach Payne quipped. “They cheer like they know they’re going to win. They have swagger.”
“It was a great college basketball atmosphere. They got after us, but it was clean and they were having fun. We enjoyed your fans.”