SAGU rocks Cougars, 68-61
Lions advance to finals against DBU
Team rallies from nine-point deficit to beat CCU
LAKEWOOD, Colorado -- A 22-11 surge to start the second half was the difference as the men's basketball team from Southwestern Assemblies of God University defeated Colorado Christian University, 68-61, in the semi-finals of the NCCAA Central Regional in Denver.
The streak gave the Lions a 56-46 lead with 7:17 remaining. In roughly a twenty minute stretch that began with SAGU trailing 25-16 in the first half, they outscored the Cougars by a 40-21 count to swing the balance of power in their favor.
The Lions will meet Dallas Baptist University, the #1 seed in the field of eight teams, at 6:00pm (CST) on Friday for a berth in the nationals, March 14-17 in northern Indiana. The Patriots (17-13) pulled away from a 47-40 halftime lead en route to a 90-74 win over Oklahoma Wesleyan University (16-16) on Thursday afternoon.
Southwestern trailed 25-16 with 7:15 remaining in the first half before rallying to within 35-34 at intermission. The Lions dialed-up a tougher defensive front in the second half to counter the hot hands of CCU. The Cougars were 8-of-13 from long distance in the first twenty minutes but were held in check the rest of the way. They were good on just two-of-nine from behind the arc as SAGU seized control.
In that decisive segment of the contest, Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Trinity Christian School) poured in eight points and Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) bucketed six. (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS)
A free throw by Christian Wood-Dvorak (Halletsville, Tx / Halletsville HS) gave the Lions the lead for good, 39-38, at the 16:21. Seconds later a steal by Rambo led to an offensive putback by Nwelue (like NEW-well-a-way) of a missed three by James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy). SAGU led 41-38 and the Cougars never got closer than three.
Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Waco HS), who scored 19 in Wednesday's 97-72 win over Southwestern Christian, spent the night defending and dishing out assists. The 2011 NAIA scoring champion took one shot in the second half and had three helpers, including a dime to Craig Grigsby (Houston, Tx / Glenda Dawson HS) for a slashing layup and a 49-44 lead.
Following a pair of free throws by Jon Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS), Rambo sent a pass to junior aviator Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Connally HS), who was taxiing down the runway. With clearance for flight, he launched to deliver the in-flight entertainment in the form of a first-class dunk!
Nwelue wristed a short jump shot to increase the lead to 56-46, then used a sweet pass from Horne to jam the highest-percentage shot through the cylinder with 4:52 remaining.
The Cougars wouldn't go away. They parlayed two turnovers and a missed Rambo three to reduce their deficit to 62-59 on two Abram Ziemer buckets. Only 1:05 was showing on the game clock.
The Lions iced the game by running time off of the clock, then Grigsby drew a foul with 0:35 left. He swished two from the foul line, as did Ward just seconds later. CCU scored their final field goal only to watch a long pass to Ward in which he finished with an exclamation mark slam in the closing seconds.
Stats: Team and Player Totes
SAGU had three players score in double figures, led by sophomore guard Grigsby. He made five-of-nine shots from the field and was 6-of-11 from the charity strip for a team-high 17 points.
Rambo netted 16 points. He connected on 7-of-18 attempts, though his 1-for-9 beyond the arc production was just part of the Lions 3-of-21 effort. CCU knocked down 10 triples in 26 tries.
Nwelue contributed 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Along with Horne and Ward, he grabbed seven rebounds. Ward scored eight points. Dvorak had six points and six boards. Both Nwelue and Ward blocked shots.
SAGU won the battle for the boards, 39-32, including 14-9 on the offensive glass.
Southwestern connected the dots for only 3-of-21 long distance calls. They made 18 triples the night before.
They edged CCU in shooting accuracy 42% (24-57) to 41% (20-49) and on the foul line; 17-of-25 (68%) to 11-of-20 (55%).
SAGU made 10 turnovers to the Coogs' 15.
Ziemer led CCU in scoring and rebounding with a game-high 18 points and five caroms.
"Coach Speak" by Bostwick
“The atmosphere tonight was similar to one of our games,” said SAGU Head Coach Donnie Bostwick of the announced crowd of nearly 900 (Events Center capacity: 1,500). “So, it was great to see us stay poised and finish strong.”
The Lions’ first year coach spoke of the keys to the game. “Offensive rebounding, free throws and our second half defensive field goal percentage helped us overcame a rough shooting night."
"I give CCCU credit. They hit 10 threes and competed hard on the defensive end as well.”
“Mike (Nwelue) brought us a big lift tonight. Other guys made timely plays as well. It was a great team effort by our guys,” Bostwick added.
Note: Photos are courtesy of the Colorado Christian University Sports Information office and Aimee Davison, S.I.D./Associate Athletic Director.