Lions overcome stubborn Rams, 78-64
Rambo, Nwelue spark second half fire
13-game winning on the line Saturday vs UST
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- A persistent camper knows that if rubbing enough sticks together won’t produce a flame, then a good lighter satisfies a friend in need.
Following an erratic first half of misfires and missed dunks, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team turned to a few proven igniters; defense and patience.
The foundation ingredients proved plenty during a second half in which the Lions made good on 61% of their shots to take down a feisty Huston-Tillotson University, 78-64, inside the Sheaffer Center.
SAGU amended their won-lost ledger to 22-3 with their thirteenth win in as many games. The no. 13 ranked team is now 16-2 in the Red River Athletic Conference.
The Lions failed to gain any ground on LSU-Shreveport and St. Thomas, who are nipping at their heels.
They both won on Thursday; the Celts routing Our Lady of the Lake, 89-48, while the Pilots sunk Texas College in overtime, 105-97.
Southwestern has five games remaining. Team Purple must play both UST and LSUS on the road, starting with St. Thomas on Saturday in Houston.
“Wins that don't come easy are priceless this time of year,” said Lions Head Coach Donnie Bostwick. “We looked tired tonight. We are going to have to pray for strength for Saturday's road game at St. Thomas.”
As for the Rams, who have increased their scoring from last year by 13 points per game (from 64.0 to 76.8), Bostwick tipped his hat.
“I do want to give HT some credit,” he said after the game. “They are much improved and kept fighting throughout the game. They have added a couple really good players that are capable of scoring even when you play good defense.”
The Lions appeared to be gliding to a breakout in the early stages, similar to their 49-23 first half against the University of the Southwest on Monday.
But the team failed to finish a handful of plays inside, including dunks that clunked and open jumpers that wouldn’t go down. Still, in spite of shooting 31% they held a 32-31 edge at the break.
That’s when Bostwick’s catalyst, junior guard Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Trinity Christian School), became the trigger man.
He made 8-of-9 shots coming out of the locker room, including 2-of-3 from long distance to fill up the basket with twenty in the second half. Rambo totaled 31 points, his second best output of the season.
In his last seven outings he has surpassed 20 on six occasions (he was held to 19 by Bacone), averaging 25.0 ppg.
He was joined tonight by Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS), the sophomore thunder dispenser.
His game featured five rim-shakers, a tip in and a 15-foot jumper that he knocked down from the elbow on a dish from Rambo. It gave the team a 62-53 upper-hand.
Nwelue (like DWELL-way) registered 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, grabbed eight boards, blocked two shots and made two steals.
James “Truck” Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) brought savvy and a reliable touch from the perimeter. The microwave-like senior added 11 points.
Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) displayed his skills during a 21-minute showing. Known as a defensive stopper, he swiped the ball twice, and was a grappler on the boards.
On one rebound in the second half, he and a Tillotson player both refused to let go of the ball, resulting in a tangle and a takedown. SAGU was rewarded with possession of the ball and a first down based on forward progress.
Jon Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS) had his moments. His penchant for stepping up was evident on Thursday. He reeled in a team-best nine rebounds and totaled six points.
On an inbounds play he scored on a runner for a 44-43 Lions lead. Moments later he soared high for a defensive carom, pivoted and pushed the ball upcourt. He passed to Guidry who then lobbed to Nwelue for a crowd-pleasing jam.
Walter had wings when Guidry stole the ball and hit him with a long scoring pass and a 53-48 advantage.
The sophomore flyer had a short jumper roll off the rim where Nwelue waited with a whisk broom. He cleaned up aisle four with another two-fisted slam.
“Dominique, Mike, Tyler, Truck, and Jon put together a great run to finish the game,” Coach Bostwick said, crediting their performances. “Good teams have different guys step up and that happened tonight.”
“I continue to be impressed with our players focus on loving each other through the difficult times. Love is the glue that helps you make it through the tough times. We stayed the course and will need to dig down to do so (again) on Saturday.”
The Lions, who have the NAIA’s fourth toughest field goal (percentage) defense, held the Rams to 36% shooting, forced 24 turnovers and made 16 steals.
SAGU also won the boards, 41-35, including 14 on the offensive glass.
HT place four in double figures, led by Demetrius Smith’s 17 point, 16 rebound showing.
Lions face Celts at the Jack
Southwestern will be back in action in two days when they take on St. Thomas. The Saturday game has a 4:00pm start in the Jerabeck Athletic & Activities Center, a place the Lions have yet to win (0-3), losing twice by eight and once by fifteen.
The contest carries a lot of weight towards who wins the RRAC championship.
A week later, on Saturday, February 16, the Lions return home to face Paul Quinn College at 4:00pm.