Lions dominate boards, scoreboard
SAGU, now 15-5, rolls past Tillotson, 93-54
Ward, Walter, Wood-Dvorak out-rebound Rams
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Taking care of business against a winless team, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men's basketball team rolled past Huston-Tillotson University, 93-54, on Monday night in the Sheaffer Center.
The Lions vacuumed the boards, 54-23. In fact, the trio of Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. N.Texas, Connally HS), Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS) and Christian Wood-Dvorak (Halletsville, Tx / Halletsville), the Dubya's, had enough between themselves, 24 (Ward 9, Walter 8, W-D 7), to top the Rams entire team.
The triumph improved Southwestern's overall record to 15-5. Now 9-5 in the Red River Athletic Conference, the Lions moved up to fifth in the league. Huston-Tillotson (pronounced like the city of Houston) dropped to 0-21 and 0-17.
SAGU enters the final month of the regular season with 10-games to play. After a pair of road games next weekend, the Lions will finish with five-of-their-final-eight games at home.
The Lions sprung to the matter at hand, vanquishing any upset bid. Late last season the Rams, who got off to a similar start, at 1-20, then stunned Southwestern, 92-89. They were 3-24 entering that game. It wouldn't happen again.
This time SAGU led from start to finish. After a pair of free throws from Dvorak, the Lions were on top, 11-2, less than five minutes into the game. He converted another pair for a 20-6 margin.
Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / Oral Roberts Univ, Plano West HS) made it rain on his first bomb, which came on a sweet pass from Adam Martinez (Mansfield, Tx / Mansfield HS). The scoreboard bulged to 31-14.
Craig Grigsby (Houston, Tx / Glenda Dawson HS) added seven late points, including a triple, for a 46-28 scoreboard benefit at the break.
Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Waco HS) spotted Gibson open on the side for another “threecola” and a 62-36 lead.
Crashing the Boards
Throughout the game the Lions gained extra possessions as they crashed the offensive boards like a wrecking ball. By game’s end the team had grabbed a whopping 29.
Their average of 17.2 not only leads the RRAC, but it ranks #3 in the entire NAIA.
A year ago the Jungle Kings were next to last in the league with an 11.2 offensive rebounds per game average. That was 78th out of 120 Division I members.
SAGU also profited from 34 Ram turnovers. SAGU made 19.
Together the Lions parlayed the offensive boards and Tillotson giveaways into a 77 to 44 advantage in shots taken. Both clubs were successful on 41% of their attempts. It translated into a 32-18 upper-hand in baskets and, eventually, a 39-point final margin in points.
Alley-Oop and Feemster's threes
Memorable moments were Horne’s alley and Ward’s power slam on the oop, and Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Christian Academy) detonating a trio of 3-balls in less than twenty minutes on the court.
The only question was whether Southwestern would eclipse the century mark. They hit 85 (85-48) when Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ, Trinity Christian School) picked Charles Jones’ pocket and darted in for an easy deuce with eight minutes to go.
Tillotson, however, called a timeout and began letting the air out of the ball until the final buzzer. There would be very few garbage-points by either team as they milked the shot clock before shooting. The crowd was not amused.
Sophomore guards Rambo and Grigsby were steady throughout. They both racked up 17 points in less than twenty minutes of playing time. Walter and Dvorak totaled 11 and 10, while Feemster had 9; Gibson added 8, Dvorak 7, James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) and Horne six apiece. Horne led the Purple Pride with four assists and four steals.
Gibson’s gitty-up was in high gear on defense where the salty veteran collected three steals in eleven minutes.
On the boards, after Ward, Dvorak and Walter, it was Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) latching onto six, Ford and Rambo yanking down five each and Feemster registered four. The offensive glass was wiped clean by Walter and Ward, who had five each, while Rambo secured four. Individually, Feemster and Ford fought for three.
“We had a good focus and played with determination,” Head Coach Donnie Bostwick said following the game. “Forcing 34 turnovers and chasing down 29 offensive rebounds is the effort I am looking for.”
“We shot the ball poorly again (32-79 overall, 41%; 8-38 long distance, 21%) which did not make the flow of the game seem as smooth as many would like,” he continued, “but we are learning to extend our effort deeper into rotations and through mistakes.”
“Right now we are focusing on our play, and what we can do to get better for our last run up the mountain. We have practiced harder the last couple weeks than we did in preseason conditioning. It is paying off. Our shots will start to fall, I really believe that.”
The Lions’ accuracy is just .410, which ranks seventh in the 13-team league. Beyond the arc their radar range is also seventh at .311. Both figures are below last year (.422 and .363 of threes), which shows the value of their hustle and hard work in the paint.
Another noteworthy improvement of this year’s team is the play of the defense. It is clearly the strength of the team.
The Lions are allowing only 70.4 points per game to the opposition, a total that places them 3rd in the RRAC and 57th in the NAIA. For comparison sake, a year ago they yielded 86.6 ppg. That stat was last in the Red River and 118th of 120 teams.
Part of the reason is the reduction in offensive turnovers, down from 19.4 per game to 17.7. Plus, the aggressive man-to-man defense they employ is forcing the enemy into 24.0 giveaways. Last winter they coaxed the opponents into 16.9 miscues per contest.
Coincidentally, the upgrade has been accomplished with no change in the number of fouls they commit per game (22) this season compared to last year (22).
Assessing where his team is, at 15-5, Coach Bostwick said, “We are sitting in 5th place but are only two games out of 2nd place. There is a lot of basketball still yet to be played. We are going to take it one play and one game at a time.”
SAGU Schedule: Two Road Games
The team has two road trips this weekend; one far, one very close.
SAGU will travel 390 miles to Hobbs, New Mexico on Saturday, February 4. The game will begin at 4:00pm (MST) in the 1,200 seat Jack & Mabel Maddox Student Life Center, which was constructed in 2008.
SAGU is 5-2 against the Mustangs during the past three seasons.
On Monday, the Lions will be in south Dallas to face Paul Quinn College at 7:30pm. The Tigers campus is just north of I-20 and west of I-45 on Simpson Stuart Rd).
|5||Our Lady of the Lake||14-1||.933||17-4||.810||--||9-1||8-3||0-0||Lost 1|
|14||Texas Wesleyan||11-3||.786||16-4||.800||2.5||10-1||4-3||2-0||Won 1|
|St. Thomas - Houston||11-3||.786||14-7||.667||2.5||9-2||4-3||1-2||Won 4|
|SW Assemblies of God||9-5||.643||15-5||.750||4.5||9-1||4-4||2-0||Won 2|
|Texas College||9-6||.600||13-8||.619||5.0||8-2||5-6||0-0||Won 6|
|Jarvis Christian||6-9||.400||7-13||.350||8.0||5-3||2-10||0-0||Won 3|
|Paul Quinn||4-9||.308||5-14||.263||9.0||4-3||1-10||0-1||Won 1|
Key: Left-hand column reveals this week's NAIA national ranking. Our Lady of the Lake is #5, Texas Wesleyan is #14, while LSUS is in the group of schools who received votes in the Coaches Poll. They did not receive enough to crack the Top 25. SAGU dropped out out of the RV group following their loss at St. Thomas last week. OLLU lost at LSU-Shreveport on Monday.
RRAC is each team's won-lost record against teams from the Red River. GB - means the number of games behind the leader in the RRAC standings. SAGU trails OLLU by four and a half games, meaning OLLU would need to lose four in a row while SAGU wins five straight in order for the Lions to catch up.
The Top 8 teams qualify for the RRAC Tournament, which will be hosted by SAGU on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3. The finals will be played at SAGU on Monday, March 5.
Tourney pairings are as follows; 1st place versus 8th, 2nd vs. 7th, 3rd vs 6th and 5th vs 4th. Those games will be played on March 2. The tournament schedule, complete with pairings and game times, will be announced by Tuesday, February 28.