Magical snowmen thump Crusaders, 81-67
Texas Snowstorm delays season-opening win
Rambo, Nwelue, Ford spark 33-9 second-half run
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
While the white stuff is no stranger to North Texas, it is completely unheard of indoors!
Tuesday night, inside the Sheaffer Center, a short-lived blizzard blanketed the sky and then the playing surface, much to the delight of a near packed house.
While the new tradition, hurling thousands of white ping pong balls onto the court following the home team’s first basket is a visual keepsake, it leaves only two choices: shovel or make snow angels.
Both took place in less than four minutes. Players and cheerleaders and coaches whisked aside the snowball facsimiles while Judah, the team mascot, rolled at midcourt, delirious in the magical event.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Trinity Christian School) netted the bucket that launched the avalanche. When the game resumed he finished what he started, leading his team to an 81-67 victory over Dallas Christian College. Call it the win-chill factor.
Rambo, a junior guard, poured in 19-points, dished out six assists and collected five steals as the #26 ranked Lions overcame a pesky Crusaders team in the season opener for Southwestern.
After struggling with turnovers and a Dallas Christian team that made its first 19 free throws, SAGU hit the accelerator. Trailing 46-43 early in the second half, the Lions almost made it look easy.
They reeled off 16 unanswered points to seize control, 59-46, with 13:54 on the game clock. Devante Dunn (Wills Point, Tx / Wills Point HS) skied for a left-handed tip-in while Rambo scored on a jumper, a drive ending with a lefty layup and finished the run when he turned a steal in the backcourt into an easy deuce.
James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy), a senior guard, contributed a pair of free throws and capped a move inside with a hanging, pump-in-mid-air layup.
They extended the lead to 76-55 with several key plays highlighting what was a 33-9 run.
A Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS) alley to Mike Nwelue’s (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) oop, his second such slam of the game, brought a huge roar from Lions fans. Nwelue (pronounced NEW-el-ah-way) added two foul shots and stroked a turnaround jumper from the baseline.
Back-to-back transition baskets from Ford sealed the deal. The first ended a dash up court after a defensive rebound by Justis Norvilas (Taurage, Lithuania / Versmes). The second was a layup in traffic following a pass from Walter.
Coach Bostwick reviews game and snowfall
“It was good to get a home game under our belt,” said a satisfied Head Coach Donnie Bostwick. “We played a lot of people and made a lot of uncharacteristic turnovers.”
“During the first half we put them on the line too often and we had 17 turnovers,” he explained.
“In the second half we regained our focus and played much better basketball. Take nothing away from Dallas Christian. They played hard and made us work for everything we could get.”
The second year coach credited Rambo for “taking control of the game” as well as Nwelue and Walter for stepping up their play.
“Our crowd was great and the ‘Snowstorm’ tradition continues to build momentum,” said the man who experienced a similar custom while playing, then coaching at John Brown University in Arkansas (see NAIA website for story and photo).
“Few small college atmospheres match what we have here at SAGU. What a great environment for basketball,” he added with emphasis.
The Lions’ largest lead was 24, when fan-favorite Clayton O’Neill (Halletsville, Tx / Halletsville HS) took a kickout pass from Ben Starks (Austin, Tx / Southeastern CC) and nailed a three-ball from the side. The score read 81-57 as he turned and pointed to the Jungle section, acknowledging their cheers.
The Crusaders converted five late turnovers into a 10-0 run to close the game.
SAGU made 50% of their shots, including 14-of-19 from the charity stripe. Normally a three-point loving club, they sank just five, all but one coming in the first half. They dominated the boards, 47-33, while playing 15, eleven of whom scored.
A young Dallas Christian team was held to 31% shooting. Their quickness on defense and aggressive passing game, along with 19-of-25 free throws kept them in the game.
The Lions placed three in double-figures; Rambo with 19, with Nwelue adding 16 and a game-high 13 rebounds. He also blocked three shots and made three steals.
Ford came off the bench to microwave an additional 16 points, connecting on six-of-seven from the field. His Vinnie Johnson-like effort was produced in just 13 minutes.
Dunn, who fired the team’s first shot of the season, a rim-out from the baseline, netted eight points. Walter tossed in seven to go along with a handful of assists.
Three players grabbed five boards each; Dunn, Norvilas and Walter, the latter two also swatting shots.
Malcolm McCarty paced the Crusaders with a game-high 20 points. He swished all eight of his tries from the foul line and bagged 10 rebounds.
Max Berman gave the team a lift off the bench with 15. He fired a troika of three-pointers, two of them from NBA-range.
Head Coach Charles H. Williams also played many of his players, going 12-deep.
The Crusaders dropped their first two contests; a 95-84 decision to Central Christian College (now 4-0) and 81-77 at Southwestern College (5-0), both NAIA schools in Kansas.
Next Home Game: Nov. 24 vs. #8 Westmont
SAGU, who had an exhibition at #22 ranked Midwestern State University (NCAA D II) last week, travel to Stephenville on November 12 to face Tarleton State University (27-6 last season).
The 8:00pm exhibition is the season-opener for the Texans, who are perennial powers in the NCAA D2.
When the Lions meet Westmont College, ranked #8 in the NAIA, at 5:00pm on Saturday, November 24, it will be a non-conference litmus test for both teams. The Warriors are from Irvine, California.
The SAGU campus will be largely vacant for the Thanksgiving holiday, so team officials are urging area students and local basketball fans to make every effort to support the team.
The national spotlight game will feature a Dallas-area player, Westmont's All-American guard Preston Branson (Dallas, Tx / Trinity Christian Academy), who averaged 17.4 points per game.
The visiting Warriors will also play Jarvis Christian College at the Sheaffer Center the night before. The game will tip-off at 7:30pm (CST) on Friday, Nov. 23.
Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director.