Lions' coveted 3's freeze in Denver
SAGU nearly overcomes cold start
All-Region selection, Rambo scores 29
LAKEWOOD, Colorado -- Living by the three, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team died by it in an 87-80 setback to Dallas Baptist University on Friday night.
Ranked fourth in the nation in three-pointers made per game, the Lions made their average of 10. Only this time it required 43 attempts to reach their normal output. Indicative of their aberrant shooting touch was their missing 16 of 32 free throws.
The two combined to spell defeat at the NCCAA* Central Regional finals held in Denver.
SAGU’s 25-10 won-lost record is their best since joining the NAIA in the late 1990’s. The season has seen them ranked nationally by the NAIA as well as being in the NCCAA’s Top 10.
After falling behind by 15 points in the second half, the Lions fought to within 80-78 with a minute to play following a tip-in by Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Connally HS).
After the Patriots’ Jordan McGowen split a pair of free throws, SAGU had a chance to tie on a three-point try by James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy). Like their next two bids for a triple, it failed to drop through the cylinder.
The Pats (18-13), the defending national champions in the NCCAA, iced the game by making free throws.
Highest praise from Coach Bostwick
First year head coach Donnie Bostwick was pleased with his team’s effort.
“I ask our guys to always do three things,” he said following the game, “to honor Christ when they play. Honor him with their attitude, effort, and never give up. They did all three.”
“When you go 16 of 32 from the (free throw) line, and shoot 34% from the floor and make 23% from three-point range and still have a chance to tie the game in the final minute, how can you not be proud of your guys?”
“I was arguably more proud of them tonight than during any game all year,” he said of his team.
The Lions outscored DBU in baskets, 64-46, a tribute to their ability to grab offensive rebounds (16) and in taking care of the ball (only nine turnovers).
They are the NAIA's #6 team on the offensive glass. It gave them a 78-49 advantage in shots taken.
The Patriots, members of the NCAA Division II and the Heartland Conference, did their damage on the boards where they controlled the game by a 54-40 count.
They took advantage of a season-high 36 fouls assessed against SAGU by converting 41 of 52 free throws.
After making 7-of-9 from the charity stripe in the first half, the Lions swished 9-of-23 (39%) after intermission.
First Half Review
SAGU fell behind at the start, 12-4, missing seven of their first nine shots.
Following three-pointers by Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Waco HS) and Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ, Trinity Christian School) cut the Patriots lead to 15-10; DBU soared ahead by 30-15 with 7:24 left in the half. SAGU was 2-of-9 in that five minute stretch of play.
The Jungle Kings regrouped and roared to take their only lead of the game at 40-39 when Horne assisted a three-ball by Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS).
The lead, which capped a 25-9 surge, occurred with fifteen seconds to go in the half. It lasted four seconds.
A quick foul allowed the Patriots to reclaim the lead on a pair of foul shots. They never relinquished it.
DBU’s defense limited the Lions to 34% accuracy and was most comfortable with the slower tempo that saw them score 10 of the game’s 12 fast break points.
Second Half Summary
The Stars & Stripes were clinging to a 47-45 lead after Ford drained a triple for SAGU. An 11-3 Patriots run was dominated by 6-foot-7 junior forward Nick Fox. A native of Colorado Springs, he was the cog in their wheel, scoring 21 points while ripping down 19 rebounds.
Fox contributed six points as his team’s lead swelled to 70-55 at the 6:19 mark. Team Purp had made four of their first twenty tries to start the second stanza.
As they did in the first half, they circled their wagons and fought back.
Rambo keyed the rally that brought SAGU within one shot of salvaging a win. The sophomore lightning road scored 10 of his game-high 29 points down the stretch, many coming on drives to the rack.
Trifectas by Horne, Christian Wood-Dvorak (Halletsville, Tx / Halletsville HS), Ford and Walter fortified the valiant rally. Still, during the comeback the Lions missed 7-of-10 free throws; points that loomed large when they pulled to within 80-78 at 1:00.
They had outscored DBU 21-10 over 4:01 to give themselves a chance to steal one at the end.
To the Patriots’ credit, they cashed in on 26-of-33 free throws to advance to nationals to defend their title.
Rambo finished with 29 points. He bagged 9-of-19 shots, including 9-of-14 free throws. He committed a lone turnover in 33 minutes and popped a pair of threes.
Ward totaled 10 points and reeled in six boards. Horne added nine points and tied Dvorak with team-high honors in rebounds with seven.
Ford, Walter and Dvorak each tossed in eight points.
The normally underpinning reserves were lobbing snowballs, combining to make 9-of-37 (24%) compared to the starters’ 20-of-41 from the field. They did connect for five of the team’s 10 trifectas.
“They have a great team and are well coached,” Coach Bostwick said of DBU. “They are the defending National Champions for a reason. Fox is a great player and he made big plays all night.”
“Rambo carried us at times as well,” he added.
Rambo was chosen on the NCCAA’s All-Region First Team. Craig Grigsby (Houston, Tx / Glenda Dawson HS) was a second team selection.
*National Christian College Athletic Association