Coach Bostwick assesses the Lions
SAGU plays at LSU-Shreveport tonight
Purple Pride seeks first win over Pilots after nine tries
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Monday night’s key battle between Southwestern Assemblies of God University (12-3, 6-3 in RRAC) and Louisiana State University at Shreveport (8-6, 6-3 RRAC) in men’s basketball will be another litmus test for the young Lions.
The game will take place at The Dock, on the campus of LSU-Shreveport, where the Pilots are a very difficult ship to sink. After finishing 30-4 a year ago, they began this season ranked #6 in the NAIA pre-season Coaches Poll.
While opening the season at 1-3 knocked them from the poll, head coach Chad McDowell’s team was missing several players. They didn’t appear at home until their eighth game, which was a 79-73 triple overtime setback against Texas Wesleyan University that dropped them to 3-5.
They regrouped to take their next five before getting the horns, 75-68, at Texas College on Saturday.
LSUS shot 50% and held the Steers to 39% but 22 turnovers spelled the difference. TC managed to win the boards, 37-32, including 13-3 on the offensive glass.
The game is set for a 7:30pm (CST) start, with both SAGU and LSUS tied for fourth in the Red River Athletic Conference. The winner tonight will have the inside track for a Top 4 regular season finish.
Southwestern will need to shoot much better than in recent weeks, when they have connected on about 35% in their last four games. However, head coach Donnie Bostwick’s club has found the range much better when out of town, averaging around 45% while in their road purples.
To rouse the stagnant guns, Bostwick has made several variations to the starting line-up as well as the core rotation in a fresh approach.
He addressed the state of the team after topping Paul Quinn College, 76-63, on Saturday.
“We are a young team (eight freshmen) still trying to find our stride,” he said. “When you have a new coach, even your returning older players, are challenged to learn a new system and fit within the system. I think we made some important strides today.”
“It was really nice to finally hit some shots, at least in the first half (SAGU led 45-28),” he surmised. “Getting (Jared) Gibson back really gives us a lift in that area.”
Like squeezing a tube of toothpaste, Gibson can drain three-pointers from long distances in the dark. Ripping the nets on his first three bombs opened up the Tigers defense and helped spur the Lions to 11 three-balls in the opening half.
“This six game stretch after the long (holiday) break has been a challenge for our team. I think we will be better in the long run as a result, though the loss versus Wiley at home sure hurts,” he continued.
“It was nice to bounce back and return to the win column. Now we have to accept the challenge on the road Monday night at LSUS. It will be a worthy challenge. We will need our depth and consistent shooting to win that one.”
The Pilots have dominated the series with the Lions, winning all nine meetings. SAGU is 0-5 against them at home, 0-3 in Shreveport and 0-1 on a neutral court.
LSUS took two last winter, 94-70 in the Sheaffer Center and 112-98 at The Dock. Overall, they average winning by twenty-one points, 96.9 to 75.3.
The closest the Lions came to ending the Pilots’ mastery was on November 28, 2006 in Shreve Town. Behind Julio Osorio and Jake Sones, who netted 17 and 16 points respectively, SAGU fell 80-70.
The only other time the Purple Pride was within 20 points was two years ago, when SAGU came up short, 93-79, at home in the season opener (11-6-2009). Four ‘Cats were in double-figures that night; Jonathan Black 19, Matt Allbritton 17, Ronald Horne and Gibson, each with 13.
Current RRAC Standings*
Team (Conference Record) Overall Wins-Losses, Winning Percentage
Our Lady of the Lake (10-0) 13-3 .813
Texas Wesleyan (7-2) 12-3 .800
St. Thomas - Houston (7-2) 9-6 .600
SW Assemblies of God (6-3) 12-3 .800
Wiley College (6-3) 10-4 .714
LSU-Shreveport (6-3) 8-6 .571
Univ of the Southwest (5-5) 8-6 .571
Texas College (4-6) 8-8 .500
Langston Univ (4-6) 4-11 .267
Paul Quinn College (3-6) 4-10 .286
Jarvis Christian (3-7) 4-10 .286
Bacone College (1-9) 2-13 .133
Huston-Tillotson (0-11) 0-15 .000
The top eight teams qualify for the RRAC tournament in March at SAGU.
*as posted at www.redriverconference.com