Roaring Lions earn huge road win
SAGU tops OLLU, 77-70; now lead RRAC
Team avoids chalk, wins on defense, rebounding
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Playing like a team on a mission the no. 21 ranked Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team whipped the defending league champion Our Lady of the Lake University, 77-70, on Thursday night in the Mission City.
It was the second huge road victory of the season for the Lions, who are now 13-3 overall. Coupled with no. 10 Texas College’s 74-72 loss at Wiley College, SAGU (8-2 in RRAC play) now leads the Red River Athletic Conference by a half game over the Steers (7-2).
OLLU (6-3 in RRAC) entered the game ranked no. 28 and on the heels of a similarly tough setback on Monday, at LSU-Shreveport, 95-91.
They still owned a 6-1 series lead over the Lions. The Saints had eclipsed 100 points four times in the series and handed the Lions their biggest loss last season, 98-79.
In fact, SAGU had lost all three meetings in San Antonio.
Tired of appearing as the object for a sidewalk chalk-art show, SAGU was determined to reverse the Saints’ mastery.
Contesting shots, chasing down loose balls and crashing the boards, the Saints matched SAGU from the opening tip. Both teams play man-to-man defense, though OLLU applies theirs fullcourt from start to finish.
Each squad also employs a long bench, some of them as talented as those in the first group in their rotation. It makes for a basketball version of “high-speed in-the-net” action for fans and those following via “high-speed internet.”
Thursday night’s clash of league titans was not for the timid or for 'old school,' big, lumbering forwards and centers. It was about speed, quickness, velocity and a Thesaurus list for hasty!
The score would be deadlocked five times and the lead would change hands on six occasions.
There would be no white flags.
OLLU, with the superior offense, has averaged 103 points per game in the first seven encounters with the Lions. SAGU has the benefit of the better defense. Both rank nationally in offensive rebounds and three-point makes.
On this night, as in a classic legal trial, the defense never rested.
Second Half Revisited
And, once SAGU squeezed into the lead at 45-43, never trailed again.
The Purple Pride overcame a 10-point first half deficit with a mixture of defensive ferocity and control. They closed with a 22-8 run to take a 36-29 advantage into the locker room.
In the previous seven games between the teams, OLLU had averaged 53 ppg by intermission. Their low was 45 during last year’s contest at the Sheaffer Center.
So effective was the Lions’ carnivorous defense, they held the prolific scoring attack of the Halos to 25% (11 of 43, 3-of-16 beyond the arc) accuracy while forcing 15 turnovers in the first half.
The energy spent on both ends of the floor took something out of both team’s legs, evidenced by the Saints making only 4-of-11 free throws.
Our Lady surged to grab a 43-42 lead, scoring 14 of the first twenty points in the opening six minutes of the second stanza.
The Lions regained the lead for good with six straight points. After Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) knotted the score with a foul shot, the Lions gained the upper hand.
Jon Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS), who enjoyed an active game on both ends of the floor, misfired on a midrange shot, only to have Mike Nwelue (like DWELL-way) (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) clean it up with an offensive stick-back.
Fitting, as the Lions earned 13 of their 21 offensive boards after recess.
Nathaniel Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. N.Texas, Connally HS) slashed inside to convert an old-fashioned three-point play for a 48-43 margin with 12:38 remaining.
Two more offensive putbacks began to reveal the lead would not be surrendered.
A Gentry shot rimmed out only to have junior Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Trinity Christian School) soar to tip it back in from the front of the rack. It was 50-45.
Following a 14-footer by OLLU’s Robert Martinez that sliced their debt to 50-49 at 10:55, Ward cashed in an acrobatic offensive carom, was fouled, and tossed in the ‘and one’ shot.
James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) supplied a floater on a drive down the baseline and, after Guidry sank a left-handed layup, grabbed an offensive carom on the short side, and powered in a reverse layup to extend the lead to 59-53.
Ward spotted Nwelue on the low block, where the sophomore leaper, spun the opposite way he usually pivots to drain a 12-foot fade-away jumper. Walter pierced the lane with a daring dash to remain in front, 65-59.
Rambo, whose outside shot was well-contested throughout, impacted the game without the ball; on defense, and on drives.
He made a sensational play near midcourt by tipping a ball away and chasing it down near the scorer’s table, then zooming in for a layup.
OLLU stayed close thanks to Martinez and Lo’Ron Smith's energetic play. The former found a lane on the right side he stormed through to keep the Saints within 65-61 at 4:07.
But five points in a row stretched the Jungle Kings' lead to 72-63. Rambo motored inside, then caught a feathered pass from the top of the key by Ward. In stride, the endlessly, energetic guard delivered.
SAGU salted away the triumph by scoring their final eight from the charity stripe.
On a night when defense prevailed, the Lions had just enough to outlast the Saints.
Coach Bostwick's Review
Second year Head Coach Donnie Bostwick agreed.
“I thought it was a hard fought game between two of the hardest playing teams in the league,” he said. “OLLU demands that you match their effort in order to have a chance to beat them. That is a compliment to them and our effort over 40 minutes of intense action.”
He broke down several elements between clubs who have several similarities.
“Both of our teams shoot well. But the efforts on defense made it tough to get good looks (at the basket when shooting) and by the time you did, you were tired.”
“We did a better job in the second half taking care of the basketball,” he pointed out, referring to the Lions’ seven turnovers.
“To go 2-for-20 from three point range and only hit one shot outside the paint the entire second half and still win, it speaks to our defense and rebounding,” he continued.
“Both teams finished with 21 offensive rebounds, which, again shows each team’s effort.”
“I am simply proud of our team for pulling together to earn a hard fought road victory. We are not even halfway through conference play, so we just have to enjoy the journey and take one game at a time,” Coach Bostwick said.
SAGU has little time to savor a win so sweet.
Next Game, Saturday, vs. Paul Quinn College
Saturday, Jan. 12, they will face Paul Quinn College in Southeast Dallas in a 2:00pm (CST) matinee.
“Focusing all of our attention on Paul Quinn (7-5) after a short turnaround is critical,” he said on Friday. “They have two of the best big men in the league. We will need to rebound and defend as a unit tomorrow.”
The Tigers have lost three consecutive times, two of them by one and two points. They defeated LSU-Shreveport, 122-120. They are a handful.
A year ago the Lions dropped eight decisions away from home. Saturday, they want to protect their current unbeaten, 8-0, mark on the road.
The Tigers home gym is located on campus at 3837 Simpson Stuart Road, Dallas, TX 75241.
Directions: Take I-35 north, then I-20 east. Take I-45 north and turn left at the first exit onto Simpson Stuart Rd. Campus will be on the right.
SAGU place five played in double digits, led by the backcourt pair of Rambo and Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Okla. Wesleyan Univ., Hondo HS). They each netted 13 points and combined to make 11-of-12 free throws.
Rambo equaled his career high with nine rebounds.
Nwelue garnered a double-double; scoring 12 on six-of-10 shooting and yanking down 14 boards, six on offense.
Ford tallied 11 points in just 14 minutes of court-time while Walter added 10 points.
Ward had nine points, twelve rebounds and four assists. Guidry registered five points and three helpers.
Mo Oglesby (Arlington, Tx / Zion Academy) came off the bench to inject energy over 11 minutes during a key stretch of the game. He scored four points, had two boards and a steal. His only miss was a rim-out that went three-quarters down before whirling out.
SAGU starters outpointed Our Lady’s quintet by a 57-38 count, though the Saints topped the Lions’ bench, 32-20.
Smith led all scorers for OLLU. The veteran reserve tossed in 23 points and had 10 rebounds. Martinez added 19 points.
After being edged in rebounds at halftime, 32-28, SAGU won the second half 29-22, including 13-7 off the offensive glass. The Lions scored seven baskets on offensive stickbacks. (Click on the Box Score above for detailed statistics)
SAGU's First Half Highlights
A few offensive highlights in the first half;
Trailing 12-2, Ward pumped up Team Purple when he beat the OLLU press with a breakaway jam. Nwelue got his first of two dunks, cashing a Walter miss with a monstrous two-fister that tied the score at 14.
Walter capped a drive with a sweet finger-roll lay-in and Oglesby muscled in a basket thanks to a pass from Guidry. Gentry gave the Lions their first lead, 25-22, with a three-ball at 4:52.
Nwelue defended a 3-on-1 break, coaxing a miss, leading to a pull-up jumper on the other end by Ford. Nwelue fed Rambo in transition for a full-speed scoop shot and a 32-27 lead.
Emmanuel Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / Parkview HS), a defensive stopper, drew a charge when Jerell Ellis turned E-Man into a 10-pin. Rambo netted two free throws to end a half in which Ford, SAGU’s version of a micro-wave, led with seven points.
*Special Thanks to Patty Constantin, OLLU's News and Sports Information Officer, for the game photos.