SAGU surges past St. Thomas, 78-73
Gentry gets defensive to spark rally
Rambo rainbows produce 32-pts; Lions now 12-3
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Time and tide wait for no man.
During a Saturday matinee, Southwestern Assemblies of God University was in a fierce tug of war against one of the nation’s best defensive teams, the University of St. Thomas.
In a men’s basketball game whose ebb and flow included nine ties and 15 lead changes, the host Lions found themselves trailing, 70-66, with 2:48 to play.
Momentum was wearing a red jersey.
Stemming the tide when time, too, was not an ally; SAGU was working against the rotation of the planet.
Following a timeout the Lions mustered a 'last gasp blast' to avoid what looked and felt like a ship stranded at low tide.
Just in the nick of time, junior Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Hondo HS), a defensive stalwart, turned in two huge plays that quelled the waves, powering SAGU to a 78-73 triumph in the Sheaffer Center.
First, he stole a pass and stormed the length of the court for a layup with 2:19 to play.
The Celts' talented point guard Travis Lampley misfired on a three-ball, but Deric Dudley retrieved the offensive rebound.
After setting up a good shot, Lampley’s short-range attempt was blocked by Gentry with 1:29 remaining. Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Trinity Christian School) snared the rebound and set sail in transition.
From the right wing he zipped a dart to Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS), who was at the top of the arc. The unflappable sophomore wasted little time before launching a shot that was six-feet behind of the line. The trifecta ripped the nets for the lead, 71-70, as the clock flashed 1:23 remaining.
It was his only basket. Timely. There would be no further swapping of the pole position.
After Rambo bagged a pair from the foul line, Lampley and SAGU’s Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) each split a pair. The Lions led 74-71 with 0:23 to go.
Bryan Kaase (KAH-see) boarded the Guidry miss and triggered the Celts’ bid to tie the game with a trey.
Adrian Morales came around a screen on the right with a great look, but his proposal went begging.
Rambo leapt for the rebound on the short side. He was quickly fouled and wristed two more from the charity stripe to cap a 10-1 run.
After Lampley sank a pair of free throws, James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) iced the game with foul shots. In the clutch, the Lions converted 7-of-8 from the line. They were 17 of 20 for the game.
“It was a terrific way to start 2013,” said a relieved Head Coach Donnie Bostwick. “A quality win over a very good team. Winning a hard fought battle always feels good, because you have to handle adversity and finish strong.”
“In that timeout (2:48 left), down by four, we knew we had to make one run to win it,” he explained.
“Caleb did what he does best. He stepped-up on the defensive end of the floor with a steal and a basket coming out of the timeout. That was followed by a stop and a clutch three by Jon to turn the momentum our way.”
The second-year coach concluded that “Finishing games by hitting free throws sure makes a coach sleep well at night.”
The win lifted the no. 28 ranked Lions record to 12-3 and their Red River Athletic Conference mark rose to 7-2.
They trail only Texas College (13-2, 7-1 in RRAC) and Our Lady of the Lake University (8-5, 6-1) in the 13-team league.
St. Thomas, who entered Saturday with the stingiest defense (62.3 ppg allowed) in the RRAC, slipped to 8-4 and 4-3.
The Celts’ (pronounced Kelts) four losses have been by a combined 16 points to Rogers State University (12-4), Our Lady, Texas College and SAGU, whose collaborative record is 45-14.
The game was tied at the half, 43-43, as St. Thomas had the hot hand. They made 61% of their shots (16 of 26), including 5-of-9 from long distance.
Caleb Williams, a 6'5 senior forward, was on fire early, draining all four tries from downtown and finishing the half with 14 points.
Behind Lampley’s passing, the Celts had assisted on 12 of their 16 field goals.
The Lions countered with an 11-1 advantage on the offensive glass, turning the extra possessions into a 37 to 26 edge in shots attempted.
The Purple Pride had seven triples, led by Rambo’s 5-of-9 aerial assault. He poured in 23 points to keep SAGU in the game.
The Lions trailed 13-5, 22-15 and 32-24 on a spinning jumper by UST’s 6'6 junior Henoc Jean.
Four straight Rambo rainbows, including two on long distance calls, sparked a retort by the hosts. A steal by Ford set up a sweet Guidry-to-Emmanuel Adoyi (pronounced ah-DOY, like: a boy) combination for a 36-34 lead.
Adoyi’s biggest contribution, however, was applying the defensive clamps to Williams in the second half. He permitted just two field goals – none from three-point range – in four attempts.
Defensive strategies were minimized by each team’s perimeter precision as well as a scarcity of turnovers; both clubs made just two in the opening twenty minutes.
The second half witnessed the expected; ballhawking defenses.
The lead swapped colors 10 times, with the trailer seldom falling far enough behind to appear in the rearview mirror.
St. Thomas cooled off, making good on 41% (11 of 27) while SAGU swished 48% (11 of 23). After holding a 19-9 rebound advantage in the first half, the Lions’ share after the break was just 15-14.
UST’s largest lead in the second stanza was at 52-48 on a Williams jumper with 15:20 to play.
Team Purp surged ahead with a 10-0 run. A baseline drive by Ford in which he made three moves - almost spelling Mississippi with swerves, ended when he muscled in a layup. He also cashed in when he swiped the ball and went coast-to-coast to knot the score.
SAGU went ahead on consecutive treys from Guidry – on an assist from Rambo, and when Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Connally HS) found Rambo on the edge with a kickout pass.
Just when SAGU gave the impression they had seized control, leading 58-52 (11:25 to play), the red coats mounted a revolution.
Lampley stroked a pull-up jumper and a triple, and then earned his 10th assist when he fed junior forward Nate McAnelly for a basket to regain a 59-58 margin.
A Rambo leaner and a turnaround baseline jump shot by Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / Parkview HS) pushed the Lions on top 62-59.
The Celts regrouped with three threes; Morales hit the first, followed by Dudley and Lampley, whose bomb from the top of the key gave UST a 68-66 advantage. A 12-foot fade-away by Morales (70-66) set the stage for SAGU’s winning reply.
Rambo finished with a game-high 32 points. He knocked down six triples and all six attempts from the foul line. He added five assists and five steals.
Everyone else seemed quiet in comparison. Sophomore forward Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS), Gentry and Ford all registered 11 points.
In winning the boards, 34-23, it was Rambo and Adoyi pacing the team with seven apiece. Nwelue and Ward had six and five.
Williams was high for the Celts with 19. Dudley and Lampley each netted 14, with the latter credited with eleven assists.
Lions Menu: Saints on Thursday
The Lions have a huge match-up looming this Thursday, January 10. OLLU, the defending league champions (27-8 last year), play host to SAGU in San Antonio.
The Saints have won eight-of-nine games since an 0-4 start. The teams split two regular season encounters last winter.
Presently, the Halos are the nation’s #1 three-point shooting squad, making 12.8 treys per outing while netting 92.0 ppg. Their work on the offensive boards and defensive intensity parallels the Lions’ modus operandi.
Tipoff at the Mabee Gymnasium is slated for 7:30pm (CST). The Saints are 4-3 at home. Fans can follow the play-by-play on-line via Live Stats.
OLLU opened the season at no. 7 in the NAIA’s Coaches Pre-Season Poll. The next poll will be released on Tuesday.
The next home game is three weeks away; Saturday, Jan. 26, against Bacone College. It will be carried live in HD on SAGU TV.