Walter's clutch play lifts Lions, 80-74
Nwelue power dunks saves bacon
SAGU (7-1) hosts Texas College (7-1) on Monday
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WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The sign of a good breakfast cereal is one that stays crunchy in milk. Soggy flakes are not so good.
During Saturday’s highly-contested men’s college basketball game between Southwestern Assemblies of God University and visiting Jarvis Christian College, when it was crunch time, one player had clearly eaten his Wheaties.
The Lions, enduring an erratic shooting effort, flexed their staunch staple of defense, rebounding and all-out hustle.
While not alone, it was all embodied in Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS). The 6’4 winger rose to the occasion in a game that SAGU trailed, 56-55, midway through the second half.
Walter scored 12 of his 21 points down the stretch to lead the Lions, now 7-1 overall, to an 80-74 triumph over an inspired Jarvis team.
The Lions overcame a 31% night from the field by winning the battle of the boards, 49-40. Inside that stat was the key to the game.
Team Purple asserted themselves on the offensive glass, where they repossessed 24 missed shots. Those rebounds enabled them to control the ball. Translated, they had an 86 to 61 advantage in shots attempted.
They turned those into added tries for three-pointers and free throws.
Coaches post-game summaries
“I am very proud of our effort and persistence,” said Head Coach Donnie Bostwick. “Good teams win games like that. The twenty-four offensive rebounds was the story of the game.”
“They killed us on the offensive boards,” acknowledged Keith McKinnon, Jarvis' Head Coach. “They are very aggressive. They stick together. They’re very disciplined and they stay focused.”
“I told our guys this will require a full forty minutes,” he continued. “SAGU played 40. We did for 38.”
“Our plan was to slow (Dominique) Rambo down,” McKinnon added. Two of the Bulldogs players whose defensive effort managed to decelerate the hasty playmaker were Chris Davis and Roman Walker.
“But we had no answer for #21 (Walter). He shot the ball very well.”
Walter took a pass from Emmanuel Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / Parkview HS) and muscled in a reverse layup. Fouled on the play, the ensuing free throw gave the Lions a 58-56 lead at the 10:04 mark. They never trailed again.
The sophomore intercepted a pass and went the distance, and then, following another steal on the Bulldogs next possession, scored on an offensive stickback.
Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) stroked a 15-footer before sending a crosscourt pass to James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy). The hemi-powered senior guard turned the key on a triple for a 68-58 lead.
Adoyi (pronounced like a-BOY) claimed an offensive carom, pivoted and flipped a pass to Devonte Dunn (Wills Point, Tx / Wills Point HS). He converted the dime into a fluid jumper from the elbow for a 69-60 margin.
The blue-clad Bulldogs would not go under the porch. They howled to within 71-69 on the grit of Marcus O’Key. The 6’5 forward bowed-up for an old fashioned three-point play, passed to Walker for a baseline drive and knocked down a turn-around jumper.
Jarvis would have tied the game hadn’t Rambo denied Dewayne Wade from behind on a fastbreak with 4:03 to play.
Also hurt themselves when E.J. Freeman was called for a charge following a Walker steal, then Davis missed a contested layup.
SAGU then salted the game away.
Walter hit both ends of a one-and-one for a 73-69 lead at the 2:08 mark. Jarvis tried to get the ball to the 6-foot-7 Tramaine Simmons, who had posted up on the right block. Rambo snuck in to poach the pass.
That steal led to Ford being fouled. He sank a pair with 1:23 on the clock.
After a Jade Allen steal led to a Freeman hoop, Walter put the game away with two plays.
He knifed inside on a drive for a lay-in only to have the ball roll off the rim.
There like a vulture to clean it up was sophomore Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS). He grabbed the rebound and slammed it home while clinging to the rim, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Walter was not through. He swiped the ball near midcourt, moved in and supplied the alley to Nwelue’s oop. The two-fisted dunk, like the pop tune “Landslide,” brought the Dogs down.
“I had to do something,” Nwelue (pronounced like DWELL-way) explained. “I wasn’t doing anything else,” he said of his performance, which actually included 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“Coach kept telling us to crash, crash, crash the boards,” he added.
As for his pair of slams, “It was perfect timing.”
Freshman forward Justas Norvilas (Taurage, Lithuania) approached him and put his arm on shoulder and summed it up well. In his Eastern European accent he declared, “He saved our bacon. He saved our bacon!”
Mike just smiled and agreed, “it sealed the deal.”
“A different player kept stepping up until finally Mike finished the job,” Bostwick concluded. “They (Jarvis) got to the rim more than what I would have liked, but other than that, I will take a win (when we were) shooting 30% any time.”
He also praised the crowd who attended the matinee. “Thanks to all of the students and local fans that made it out to the game they really helped us get over the hump.”
SAGU normally plays Saturday home games at 7:30pm. The RRAC, who makes the conference schedule, has three more home afternoon games set; January 5, February 16 and 23.
Fans witnessed a game of ebb and flow. The Lions opened a 19-14 lead on an 8-0 run. Gentry fired a 3-ball after Rambo drove inside and kicked a pass out to the sophomore guard. ‘Bo lifted a rainbow three, thanks to an assist from Adoyi.
Jarvis cashed in on dunks from Simmons and a flying left-handed flush by Walker.
SAGU went on top, 36-29, on Walter and Guidry treys. The Lions led at the break, 36-31.
Jarvis has outshot Southwestern, 41% to 24%. The Jungle Kings countered their frosty mittens by seizing a 28-23 margin on the boards, 12-2 on offense. Plus, SAGU made zero turnovers through twenty minutes. Jarvis had six.
The Bulldogs opened their largest lead, 54-51, on the strong play of O’Key.
“He is our senior leader,” Coach McKinnon pointed out. “You let seniors lead. He takes to the role and tries to 'will us' to the victory. He is very capable of doing it too.”
“He is our captain. We support him and his responsibilities.”
The Lions committed seven of the first eight fouls in the second half, as Jarvis had the hosts on their heels.
An acrobatic shot by Ford, made in transition, and a pull-up jumpshot by Guidry, also during a fastbreak, drew Team Purp to within 56-55.
Walter led SAGU with 21 points, while Nwelue and Rambo bucketed 14 apiece and Ford poured in 13 in 13 minutes. That group accounted for 17-of-21 free throws.
Rambo was credited with five assists to go along five steals. Dunn tossed in eight points and had seven boards, five offensive.
Adoyi contributed 11 rebounds, sharing game-high honors with Jarvis’ O’Key. Six of his boards came on the offensive window.
O’Key had a complete performance. He racked up 27 points, all but five in the second half. He made 10 of 13 shots, six of eight on the charity stripe.
Walker added 16 points, with Simmons and Freeman netting 12 and 10 respectively.
Jarvis converted 49% of their field goal attempts, but hindered their case by going 10-of-18 on the foul line and making 15 of their 21 turnovers in the second half.
Huge home game Monday; finale for Sullivan, cheer captain
SAGU will have their hands full again on Monday night. Texas College (7-1, 2-0 in RRAC) visits at 7:30pm. The Steers have won five straight games by an average score of 72-65.
Most impressive was their 83-69 home win over nationally-ranked LSU-Shreveport.
In the game the Steers vaulted to a 38-22 halftime lead. They gunned in 24 of 34 shots (70%) beyond the arc.
It will also be the final home game for senior cheerleader, Catherine Sullivan. The co-captain graduates this semester.
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Photo Gallery: Fans can view and/or purchase 173 photos from the men's game, 222 from the women's game and over 70 of the SAGU Cheer team at the Moving Pictures website. Go to: www.movingpictures.photoreflect.com