Lions rally, dunk Celts, 67-60
SAGU scores final eight points
Semi-final clash with OLLU Saturday, 8pm
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Four days after rolling to a 72-55 win over the University of St. Thomas at home, Southwestern Assemblies of God University nearly fell prey to a hungry UST team before rallying to win, 67-60, in a Red River Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal.
After losing a 13-point lead, SAGU trailed the Celts, 54-50, with 6:45 left in the game. Following a timeout by new head coach Donnie Bostwick, the Lions regrouped and outscored the Celts 17-6 to advance to an 8:00pm Saturday semi-final against the #1 seed, Our Lady of the Lake University (25-6).
Played in front of a home crowd producing earsplitting support, the Lions (23-8) scored the game’s final eight points in the last minute of play.
As they have on several occasions down the stretch this season, with a game on the line, the squad followed the lead of the Three Bucketeers; Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Waco HS), Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Connally HS) and Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / Oral Roberts Univ, Plano West HS).
After a turnaround basket by Caleb Williams giving St. Thomas a 60-59 lead with 1:56 remaining, the game’s decisive plays were made the Waco Duo.
At first finding no entry, Horne bolted powerfully down the right side of the lane for a layup while being fouled by Williams. He converted the ensuing ‘and one’ for a 62-60 lead at 0:57.
The Celts next possession proved disastrous for them. Travis Lampley, the league-leader in assists per game (6.8 apg), hung a droopy pass to his right. Ward stormed in to intercept the ball just outside the arc and went coast-to-coast, finishing with a screaming, one-handed jam!
His convincing play was the death knell for at St. Thomas, much to the delight of SAGU fans dressed in black. That is where St. Thomas faded to in the closing thirty seconds.
A questionable offensive foul called against the Celts, followed by a phantom foul near the baseline corner was too much for St. Thomas. Free throws and a technical foul ended their season a game earlier than desired.
Just when it appeared the Lions were going to ditto Monday’s big win, St. Thomas put together a vivid stretch of play that revealed how good they can be.
SAGU led 41-28 on a pair of free throws by Horne with 17:21 to go. By the time the Lions scored again, on a layup by Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ, Trinity Christian School) four and a half minutes later, the Celts were within 41-38.
Gibson drained a 3-ball from the left wing for a 46-40 lead.
The red-cladded Celts continued their resurgence, taking the lead when Lampley connected with Anthony Medina for a triple to go up, 51-50 (8:15 left). Another Medina trey, coming on a Jeremy Lewis assist, capped an impressive 26-9 run by the team from Houston.
The Lions’ comeback got jumpstarted when three-point assassin Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Christian Academy) stroked a trifecta from the left edge at the 5:30 mark. Ward then sank two free throws.
The 6-foot-5 junior then grabbed an errant Rambo shot, and, under the backboard and surrounded by a sea of red, elevated and deftly scored on a reverse layup with 4:02 showing.
It set the stage for a closing in the Sheaffer Center that was near-deafening.
SAGU led at the half, 33-20, as they outshot UST 50% to 33% and dominated the boards, 20-10.
Both teams made 22 field goals, with the Celts owning a slight 8-7 margin in three-pointers. UST was good on 8-of-10 free throws compared to Southwestern making good on 16-of-25. In the team’s first meeting in Houston, the Celts made good on 23-of-30 in a 76-68 win.
The revived Celts sank 13-of-27 second half shots (48%), including five treys, and committed only three of their twelve turnovers.
Southwestern knocked down 11-of-20 shots (55%) and seemed to come up with most every loose ball, led by the wood-surfer, Christian Wood-Dvorak (Halletsville, Tx / Halletsville HS).
One of his mad dashes to save a ball, flicked back in bounds to Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS), ended with Dvorak sliding on his back into the scorer’s table.
Ward led the Lions with 15 points, seven rebounds, had three steals and two blocked shots in only 19 minutes. Horne played in 22 and racked up 10 points, the same total as Feemster, who had 21 minutes off the bench.
Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) made the Lions’ first two baskets in each half, tossed in eight.
SAGU outscored the UST bench 28-16. Bostwick played 10 Lions, with player minutes ranging from 12 to 29.
St. Thomas placed three in double-figures; Medina 16, Adrian Morales 11 and Williams 10.
Southwestern advances to the semi-finals on Saturday, where they will take on the #7 ranked team in the NAIA, OLLU, at 8:00pm. It will be the third meeting between the two; the Saints winning in San Antonio, 98-79, before falling in Waxahachie, 106-80.
The other semi-final contest pits the #2 seeded and #14 ranked LSU-Shreveport (23-7) and #3 seed, Texas Wesleyan University (25-6). That game will be played at 3:00pm. During the regular season the teams split; #20 ranked TWU winning in triple overtime in Shreveport, before LSUS took the rematch, 61-57, in Ft. Worth.
LSU eliminated Texas College, 75-72, on a buzzer-beating three-ball . Wesleyan pulled away in a 74-59 victory over Wiley College and OLLU erupted for 75 points in the second half to thump Jarvis Christian College, 108-98.
The RRAC finals will be played on Monday at 7:30pm.
Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, Sports Information Director, at mwarde@sagu or at 469-658-2847.