Lions win rollercoaster ride, 91-87
SAGU rallies from 16-point deficit
Rambo, Horne, Grigsby prove their mettle
MARSHALL, Texas -- Promotional events have caused fans of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team to stick around until the game ends. Lately, however, they would be crazy to head for the exits early!
Saturday afternoon in the City of Lights, the Lions and Wiley College (19-10, 15-9 in RRAC) went to the wire before SAGU (21-8, 15-8 in RRAC) pulled out a thrilling, 91-87, victory before a boisterous Senior Day crowd.
Scoring one-hundred points or making thirteen three-pointers awards those in attendance with coupons for free tacos or hot wings at local sponsoring restaurants were great ideas to build attendance.
But nothing does it naturally like winning! Especially high octane, dramatic wins at the end.
Twelve times this season the Lions have been involved in games decided by less than 10-points. They have won eight of them. In the last two weeks they have been involved in five straight white-knucklers, twice going to double-overtime – both losses, and three whose outcome hung in the balance until the last minute.
“What did I miss?” are the words no fan of SAGU dares to utter.
Saturday’s rematch of Wiley’s wild, 70-68 win in Waxahachie on January 12 was as mind-bending as the Titan roller-coaster at Six Flags. And fans were not wearing a harness!
Both teams exchanged torrid shooting streaks that saw each build a 16-point lead that they could not defend. Trailing 84-83 with just over one minute to play, the Lions struck for two major plays that won the game.
Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Waco HS) fired a three-ball that went three-quarters down and rimmed out high and in front of the basket. The other half of the Waco Duo, Nathaniel Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ of N. Texas, Connally HS), was already airborne!
He latched onto the ball and thundered a two-fisted dunk while fending off Jerald Ardoin. The resulting ‘and one’ free throw gave the Lions a two-point lead with 1:04 remaining. The Wildcats leading scorer this season, guard Richard Simon, split a pair of free throws when the death knell rang.
Craig Grigsby (Houston, Tx / Glenda Dawson HS) got an open look on the right wing following a pass from Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan, Trinity Christian School). He knocked it down with twenty-seven ticks on the Alumni Gym scoreboard.
The trifecta was “a dagger,” according to Habtom Keleta, the S.I.D. at Wiley. “We could’ve recovered from Duce’s dunk. But not that three.”
Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / Oral Roberts Univ, Plano West HS) got the ball to Horne, who iced the game with a pair of free throws with 0:13 to go.
“That was the first time we beat a very good team on the road,” said a relieved head coach Donnie Bostwick. “This was a great win for us... against a team that is very similar to us in style and energy. We withstood their crowd and some adversity.”
“I am proud of the guys because they overcame an onslaught, a giant wave of momentum,” he explained. “We were buried by that momentum at Our Lady and at Texas Wesleyan. Tonight we weathered it, and our guards made better decisions with the ball.”
“It was a team effort, twelve guys, without a doubt,” he continued. “It was not easy to match their effort,” he said of Wiley.
Stats: Team Totals
The Lions outshot the Wildcats, barely; 49% to 46%. SAGU held an edge beyond the arc, 11-8, and on the charity stripe. The Jungle Kings connected on 16-of-22 (73%) compared to Wiley’s 13-of-24 (54%).
In a clash of the RRAC’s #1 and #2 teams in offensive rebounding, the Wildcats out-crashed the #1 Lions by a commanding 18-6 count. SAGU offset that by forcing twenty turnovers while limiting their own.
The two teams mirror one another in another key area, one that spelled the difference. Free throws. They are both at the bottom of the league in cashing in on the unguarded shot from 15-feet. SAGU has been improving of late, but make 62% from the line; Wiley shoots 60%.
The Wildcats connected on 6-of-12 in the second half, and missed four-of-five in the last two minutes.
Stats: Player Totes
Rambo shook off a chilly first half to finish with a game-high 22-points, making 9-of-16 shots. Horne added 14, James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) 13, Ward 11 and Grigsby 10.
Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Christian Academy) contributed nine points and continued his recent surge.
Ford led the trey brigade with three. Horne and Grigsby had a pair while Gibson, Rambo, Feemster and Christian Wood-Dvorak (Halletsville, Tx / Halletsville HS) fired one apiece.
Dominic Jones led five Wildcats in double-digits with 17-points. Ardoin and Kenny LaGuerre tossed in 16 and 15, with the latter ripping down 11 boards.
The Lions roared out of the gate in building a 25-9 lead. Horne, Ford and Feemster combined for four triples as the team hit 10-of-their-first-13 shots! SAGU led at the break, 49-46, thanks to a long-distance call from Gibson in the closing seconds.
Wiley came back screaming as they not only tied the game at 49 early in the second half, but they had thrill-seekers wondering who they were playing. With 14:00 left in the contest, the hosts had zoomed ahead by sixteen points at 71-55.
In a span of 25:03, the Wildcats had gone on a 62-30 frenzy.
“I couldn’t understand it,” said an amazed Coach Bostwick. “They hit everything threw up there. Three after three… and when they did miss, they got the rebound and dunked it. I don’t know what triggered it. The floodgates were open!”
The Lions slowly began to make defensive stops, and then collected a few in a row. “Maybe Wiley got tired from all of the excitement,” Bostwick wondered.
SAGU had no answer for the 6-foot-9, LaGuerre, who was having his way in the lane.
Until they sent in James Southerland (Macomb, Ill / Macomb HS), a 6’7 junior from far-outside of anywhere in Illinois. That’s exactly where the Lions were as they tried to fend off LaGuerre (like LaGary) and Ardoin (ARR-dwahn), a 6’5 jumping jack.
“Big James gave us four or five minutes,” Bostwick said. “He got in there and banged around and battled. He didn’t really get many stats, but he slowed ‘em down, and gave us a reprieve. His play saved us. Then we began hitting a few shots and the next thing you know, the game was an all-out battle.”
From there the Southerland groundswell became a cresting wave behind Rambo’s solid play.
His thefts and board work seemed to spark his performance on offense, where his ability to get inside, coupled with some big shots, jump-started the Lions.
Horne gunned a 3-ball; Rambo knifed inside for a layup, then, following a Feemster rebound, uncorked a three at the 8:05 mark to pull to within 77-73. It came on one of five assists by Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS).
SAGU finally caught the ‘Cats when a blocked shot by Ward fueled a transition bucket by Rambo and an 80-79 margin with 5:39 left. It capped a 25-8 run to set the stage for the exciting finish.
Regular Season Home Finale on Monday
The Lions close the regular season on Monday night when they take on the University of St. Thomas at 7:30pm in the Sheaffer Center. The Celts (pronounced Kelts) are in fourth place at 17-11 overall and 15-7 in the RRAC. The winner of the game could clinch fourth.
The game will be broadcast by SAGU SPORTS Live in HD on SAGUtv. It will be the final game li vestreamed this season unless the Lions advance to the RRAC tournament finals on Monday, March 5.
St. Thomas, who won the first meeting in Houston, in January, 76-68, could be the Lions first round opponent in the RRAC tournament.
Prior to the game fans can enjoy a ceremony honoring the team’s two seniors, Gibson and Horne.
|7||* - Our Lady of the Lake||20-3||.870||23-6||.793||--||14-1||9-5||0-0||Won 3|
|19||* - LSU-Shreveport||19-4||.826||21-7||.750||1.0||10-1||11-6||0-0||Won 2|
|11||* - Texas Wesleyan||18-5||.783||23-6||.793||2.0||13-2||8-4||2-0||Won 2|
|* - St. Thomas - Houston||15-7||.682||17-11||.607||4.5||10-3||6-6||1-2||Won 1|
|RV||* - SW Assemblies of God||15-8||.652||21-8||.724||5.0||11-3||8-5||2-0||Won 1|
|* - Wiley||15-9||.625||19-10||.655||5.5||9-5||9-5||1-0||Lost 2|
|* - Texas College||13-10||.565||17-12||.586||7.0||10-4||7-8||0-0||Lost 2|
|* - Langston||10-14||.417||10-19||.345||10.5||7-7||3-12||0-0||Lost 1|
|Jarvis Christian||8-15||.348||9-19||.321||12.0||5-7||4-12||0-0||Lost 2|
|Paul Quinn||8-15||.348||9-20||.310||12.0||5-8||4-11||0-1||Won 1|