SAGU holds off Langston, 84-73
Lions now 9-2, make 28-of-32 FT's
Team prepares for LSU-Shreveport visit Thursday
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The most expensive of life’s experiences are lost opportunities.
Having fallen to Texas College earlier in the week, largely in part to making only 8-of-22 free throw attempts, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team has set out to better capitalize on their chances.
On Monday night they built a lead against Langston University, then held them off by knocking down shots from the foul line to earn an 84-73 triumph.
A determined Langston Lions team did a yeoman’s effort to keep SAGU off the offensive boards, limited their own turnovers and owned a 7-6 edge in three-pointers. Those are areas that are as steady as shore lights in a storm for Southwestern.
Coach Donnie Bostwick’s team continued to battle defensively and, on this night, relied on lessons learned against the Steers.
SAGU connected on 47% of their shots and were as hot as grits on a griddle at the free throw line.
The Lions, wearing their new purple road threads, ripped the nets on 28 of 32 free throws, all in the second half, to stave off a resilient Langston squad.
“We executed our game plan and withstood a couple of big runs that they made,” said a satisfied Coach Bostwick. “I am very pleased with our calmness and our sustained effort.”
“You can tell when we are focused by our free throw percentage,” he pointed out. “Twenty-eight of thirty-two from the line will win road games.”
It did on Monday.
“Nigel (NY-jel) gets his players to compete so hard,” he continued, referring to Langston’s second-year head coach, Nigel Thomas. “We beat a good team on the road tonight. They are going to win a lot of games in the Red River this year.”
Battle of the Big 'Cats
The game was as tight as wallpaper until the early stages of the second half. It was tied on six occasions with the lead changing hands 14 times.
The Purple Pride, now 9-2 overall and 4-1 in the Red River Athletic Conference, led at the half, 32-30. A streak of nine unanswered points pushed SAGU on top, 53-40, with 13:47 left in the game.
James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) hit a pair of baskets to ignite the surge, which still stood at 55-44 two minutes later.
Langston converted several turnovers into a 15-6 run that had them knocking on the door, 55-55, at the 8:39 mark.
Emmanuel Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / Parkview HS), Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Hondo HS) and Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS) opened the door to victory by slamming it shut from the foul line.
Adoyi (pronounced like AH-boy) stepped to the line and sank a pair, followed by Walter, and then Gentry, each with a free throw ditto for a 65-56 lead with 7:36 remaining.
Gentry then launched a three-ball to push the lead back to double-digits, 68-58. The visiting Lions had plenty of salvo to counter everything the hosts could fire.
Bostwick praised the lead set by Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Trinity Christian School) and Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS). Their determination keyed the team’s play in the first half.
“’Bo and Mike set the tone early in the game,” he said, “and then different players took turns coming through down the stretch.”
Rambo and Adoyi produced a pair from the charity stripe to maintain the upper-hand and when Adoyi repeated his feat, Team Purp was still in control of the lead and the tempo at 74-63.
Gentry rang the death knell when he converted an old-fashioned three-point play, and buckets by Nwelue (like DWELL-way) and Rambo extended the lead to 83-68.
Evidence of the team’s steady play was also reflected in their shooting accuracy. They found the range on 14 of 30 first half shots (47%), and did the same in the second, making 11 of 23 (48%).
The defense did their part, limiting Langston to 41% for the game (23 of 56).
SAGU’s blue-collar work ethic on the boards saw them punch in with 38 rebounds, while LU labored to grab 26.
Langston did manage to box-out the Flyin’ Lions, who could get to only eight offensive boards. SAGU entered the game averaging 18 per contest, which ranked #2 in the NAIA.
Cats' Stats / Ward returns
Southwestern Assemblies placed four players in double-figures in scoring, led by Rambo, who had 20. The junior fired in 7-of-14 shots, including three triples. He also sank 3-of-4 at the foul line.
Gentry totaled 15 points, with two treys, while Adoyi and Nwelue were credited with 13 and 11 points respectively. Gentry, Nwelue and Walter all had three assists.
The game marked the return of Nathaniel ‘Duce’ Ward (Waco, Tx / Connally HS). The 6’5 senior forward, who led the NAIA in rebounding two years ago, had missed the team’s first ten games.
Ward scored nine points, latched onto seven boards and blocked a shot.
“It was very good having Duce (pronounced like deuce) back,” admitted Coach Bostwick. “He rushed a few shots but he also had seven rebounds in limited play.”
“He just brings so much energy!”
Ford, also a senior, finished with nine points and his 15th three-pointer.
Langston was led by junior forward Joey Atkinson and Bayshon Payne, a senior guard. They canned 19 and 15 points respectively.
Lions face LSU-Shreveport at home on Thursday
SAGU will need a similar performance on Thursday when LSU-Shreveport visits. The Pilots are 6-2 in all games and 2-1 in the RRAC under new Head Coach Kyle Blankenship.
Their only losses have come against Texas College (10-1) and Paul Quinn College (6-1). LSUS finished 27-8 last season with a #7 ranking in the NAIA.
The teams split a year ago with the Lions taking a 64-59 decision in a physical clash that hung in the balance until the very end. LSUS led at the half, 30-28.
Since the fall semester ended over the weekend, the SAGU campus will be largely empty. Coach Bostwick has issued an invitation to local students and fans as well as the SAGU faculty to support the team in its last 2012 home game.