Defense holds Tigers' tail, 67-55
Rambo ignites 11-0 run, secures victory
SAGU improves to 14-3, leads RRAC
DALLAS, Texas -- Less than two days after a thrilling triumph in San Antonio, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team had plenty of defense left over.
On a thundery, rainy Saturday in southeast Dallas, all they needed was a splash of Dominique Rambo to polish off Paul Quinn College.
Leading from start to finish, the Lions overcame a cold spell with a robust finish to defeat the host Tigers, 67-55.
It was SAGU’s fifth consecutive victory overall and third win over Quinn in as many tries under second year Head Coach Donnie Bostwick.
“Two road wins makes for a great weekend,” the coach said following the game. “I don't get caught up in 'winning pretty.' Good teams find a way (to win).”
While offense can be as fickle as a weather vane, defense is a steadfast rudder.
Saturday the no. 21 ranked Lions hung their hat on their defense, and their record is now 14-3 as a result.
“Defense and rebounding wins more games than shooting,” Bostwick opined. “I love shooting the basketball, but sometimes shots just don't fall. Winning two road games when (we're) not shooting well is a positive any way you slice it.”
The Lions' field goal defense (.373) ranks second in the nation in the NAIA. The team's rebound margin of +7.3 caroms per game is no. 10 and, when it comes to steals, the squad is no. 15 with 10.4 swipes per outing.
Super Seniors: Ward and Ford
Against a Paul Quinn squad that defeated LSU-Shreveport earlier this season, the Lions zoomed to a quick 9-3 lead, then 22-10 on a Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. N.Texas, Connally HS) trifecta.
They stretched it 28-14 on a rare four-point play.
James Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) drained a three-ball from the left-wing, was knocked to the ground, and then converted the added free throw. Evidently, this Ford does, in fact, have a hemi.
Ford fired another 3-pointer, thanks to an assist from Justas Norvilas (Taurage, Lithuania / Versermes) to push the margin to 34-19 with 5:51 remaining in the period.
Coach Bostwick had already played almost the entire 16-man bench.
The Tigers were held to 28% shooting in the first half but a 21-2 advantage in free throws attempted led to a late rally to draw to within 40-31 at the break.
SAGU’s resistance never diminished in the second half, though the offense struggled out of the locker room. Quinn outscored the Lions 13-6 to draw to within 46-44 with 9:02 remaining.
Down the stretch, however, the Lions defense constricted tight as the lid on a honey jar.
They allowed a lone basket over the next seven minutes while the offense kept prying against an inspired Tiger defense.
A pair of Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Hondo HS) buckets; a three-ball from the edge on a pass from Jon Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS), a drive around a screen in the lane for a sidearm layup, plus free throws by Ward helped maintain the lead and control of the game.
SAGU outscored Paul Quinn 16-4 during four and one-half minutes to pull away.
The effort given by his squad was not lost on Coach Bostwick. “I especially liked the fact we finished strong,” he said.
And he was still able to empty his bench with a few minutes left in the game.
Battle of the Big Cats won with 11 points in a row
A key stretch in the second half was when the Lions broke through like a chain-break. Walter drew a charge in the paint to jumpstart a decisive 11-0 run.
Walter grabbed an offensive rebound following a missed free throw, firing the ball to Rambo on the perimeter. He launched a high-curving shot from the side of the arc that touched 'nothing but nylon.'
A rainbow ‘Three-Bo.’
"We were struggling and really needed a spark," said the point guard after exiting the locker room. "So I said a quick prayer, 'God we need a lift. Help me do something.'"
Along with Gentry, they double-teamed a Paul Quinn player in the backcourt. Gentry poked the ball to Rambo, who waltzed in for an easy bucket.
Rambo then made a solo steal and fed forward Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) for a breakaway slam.
The junior with the faux-hawk was then the recipient of a fastbreak pass when the Tigers’ next possession was snuffed out. He sprinted in for a deuce.
A moment later he stole the inbounds pass and turned it into an uncontested layup, capping eleven unanswered points.
Later, leading 64-48 lead with two minutes to play, both coaches released their reserves.
Three other memorable, second half plays;
Emmanuel Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / Parkview HS) provided needed tonic off the bench with back-to-back plays.
After the Tigers opened the second half with five points in a row, Gentry flipped a pass to Adoyi (ah-DOY, as in ‘a boy’) on the baseline. He stroked a 10-footer to break the ice.
A moment later he dashed to retrieve a loose ball that was going out of bounds near the endline. He flung it back in, only to have it sail towards the sideline. "Ditto" was stamped on Gentry, who ran to the rescue. He salvaged the possession near the stands by getting the ball to Rambo.
Seconds later ‘Bo dished to Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) for a short jumper.
The smoothest play was a 3-on-1 transition basket, Rambo lateralling to Walter, who finished with precision.
Rambo’s nine-point surge provided half of his 18 points. His overall performance was stellar, including six rebounds, five assists, zero turnovers and five steals in twenty-nine minutes. He added two of the Lions’ nine triples.
Ward netted 10 points and 10 boards – six them offensive. He also had two treys.
Walter and Gentry contributed nine points apiece, while Ford was credited with seven (all in the first half). Walter ripped down eight rebounds.
Freshman Justas (YOO-stiss) Norvilas registered five points, firing his third three-point basket of the season to go along with three rebounds.
Eleven players produced points for Team Purp. (Click on the Box Score above for complete team and player statistics)
SAGU made 37% of their shots while limiting the Tigers to 27%. The defense also forced 23 turnovers and held a 43-41 edge in rebounds over the taller opposition.
For the second game in a row the Lions latched onto 20+ offensive rebounds.
Counting only baskets, SAGU outscored PQC, 63-32.
What kept Paul Quinn in the game was 27 fouls called against SAGU. It allowed the Tigers 40 free throw attempts. They missed an opportunity to capitalize by missing 17. SAGU went to the charity stripe 10 times.
Aaron McCuin, a 6'6 senior, registered 25 points and 16 boards for the Tigers. He converted 13 of 17 free throws.
On Deck: Three Road Games
The Lions are in the middle of five successive road games. Their next three tilts are all away from the friendly confines of the Sheaffer Center.
On Saturday, Jan. 19, the Lions next opponent, Jarvis Christian College, will host SAGU at 4:00pm (CST) in Hawkins, Texas.
SAGU then takes on Texas College on Jan. 21 and Wiley College on Jan. 24. Both are significant away games.
The Lions return home on Saturday, Jan. 26, when Bacone College visits for a 7:30pm contest.
The Jungle Kings still lead the Red River Athletic Conference by one-half game over Texas College and LSU-Shreveport. Five teams are within a game of SAGU in the loss column.
The next National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Top 25 Coaches Poll will be announced on Tuesday evening.
To see the current standings in the RRAC, click here : http://www.redriverconference.com then on M-Basketball. the then and C Thhh T Cl