Lions rout Tigers, 105-83
Guidry, Oglesby have career games off the bench
SAGU wins 15th straight, built 42-point lead
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The expected battle of polar opposites was short-lived.
A non-conference clash between Paul Quinn College’s high-octane offense and the defensive hoopsters from no. 8 ranked Southwestern Assemblies of God University was filled with possibilities.
Instead, it was SAGU who put together two 50-point halves and rolled to a 105-83 pasting of the Tigers. With just over ten minutes remaining in the game the Lions led 84-42 before coasting the rest of the way.
Head Coach Donnie Bostwick, leading 93-60, emptied the entire 17-man bench for the final six minutes.
The only thing preventing the crowd from an early exit was their craving for tacos.
Justas Norvilas (Taurage, Lithuania / Versmes) broke loose for a two-handed dunk to bring the scoreboard to within a point of free Taco Bell’s signature item.
The Waxahachie branch of the Tex-Mex, fast-food chain provides taco coupons (with a purchase) for fans at games in which SAGU hits the century mark.
On their next possession, Norvilas spotted Clayton “Birdman” O’Neill (Halletsville, Tx / Halletsville HS) open across court. He zipped a pass to the crowd-favorite, who launched a rainbow from the corner.
His three-pointer rang the ‘bell,’ signaling folded tortillas filled with seasoned beef, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese to the masses.
“I’m doing my part for helping the fight against hunger,” he reportedly said. “From now on, my new nickname is ‘Taco.’”
A week ago he scored in the final minute, producing a 102-70 win over the University of the Southwest.
The crowd also took note of Norvilas, who fouled out in less than four minutes. Chants of “Yoo-stiss” filled the air to the delight of the 6’6 blonde.
The win, the Lions’ 15th in a row, amended their record at 24-3. It also set the stage for this week final two home games, both potentially huge encounters.
SAGU’s next opponent, on Thursday, February 21, is Our Lady of the Lake University, the two-time defending Red River Athletic Conference champion. The Saints are currently 18-10.
The Lions home finale on Saturday afternoon is against Wiley College (14-12). Seniors Nathaniel ‘Duce’ Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ of N. Texas, Connally HS) and James ‘Truck’ Ford (Victoria, Tx / Faith Academy) will be honored prior to the 4:00pm opening tip.
As for Saturday’s game, Paul Quinn brought the reality of an explosive offense. They had recently activated two players who helped the Tigers begin the season with a 7-1 start. They had already burst the 100-point high-water mark seven times.
Since their return the club had gone 2-0, beating Jarvis Christian College 111-110 and rolling past Southwest, 161-138. They led 86-62 at the half.
Saturday, the game had all of the earmarks of the team’s opposite strategies. Paul Quinn sought to ‘up’ the pace, while SAGU wanted to control the tempo.
Both were anticipating the needed depth and energy to accomplish their task. The Tigers began replacing players on the court with five reserves every one to two minutes.
SAGU, like a battleship trying to thwart a submarine’s plot, dropped their “depth charges” every four minutes.
Prepared for outlasting the opposition, the game went back-and-forth in the opening ten minutes. Several memorable plays included Ford’s pass in transition that Ryan Alford (Dayton, Tx / Dayton HS) jammed.
Two early thunder dunks from Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) on assists from Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / OK Wesleyan Univ, Trinity Christian School) and Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / OK Wesleyan Univ, Hondo HS).
The Tigers kept up with a 3-ball from Lazaro Moreno and an offensive stickback from 6'6 guard Myron Dempsey for a 20-19 lead.
What followed next was one of several efforts that demonstrate the work ethic of the Purple Pride.
A mad scramble for a loose ball in the paint that ricocheted off players until Nwelue layed out to tip it up to a streaking Rambo on the left edge. The junior guard then jetted to the rack for a layup.
Following a pair of free throws by Tedrick Urune (Your-OH-nee) for a 22-21 Quinn lead at 9:29, the Lions defense became as tight as a clam with lockjaw.
Ward pitched to Jon Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS) on the right wing. The sophomore flyer finished with a velvety smooth baseline lay-in. It gave the good guys in white a 23-22 lead they would never surrender.
On the receiving end of a Gentry lateral, Ward pierced the paint for a scoop shot deuce en route to 11 unanswered points.
Charles Keeley, the Tigers’ Head Coach, was heard imploring his squad to stick to the pace. They did, though they failed to connect on a series of possessions, all of them ending with the Lions ripping down the defensive rebound.
Controlling the boards, SAGU could install a governor on the rhythm of play. With Rambo, Gentry and Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) at the wheel, the team reeled off 19 straight points.
Another play indicative of this squad’s contagious “all out” modus operandi was turned in by Gentry.
A scrum for the ball at the top of the key ended when the junior, fully extended, leapt horizontally towards midcourt. He retrieved the ball with a mid-air grab.
He was also given forward progress and a first down.
Gentry drained a three-ball from the right side; Rambo beat two defenders with a spinning bucket before Gentry turned a steal into a coast-to-coast layup. Guidry cashed in a ‘Bo dime for a triple and Nwelue slammed a two-fister as the Lions roared to a 51-27 lead.
Ricky Richardson knocked down a trey to close the half, but the Tigers were down by 21 (51-30) after making just 9-of-37 shots (24%). SAGU claimed a 36-18 margin in rebounds.
The Tigers were hindered by some of their freshmen’s decision-making, which paled in comparison to SAGU’s backcourt. The Lions made 20-of-43 shots (46%) in the opening stanza and 19-of-40 (47%) in the second.
Rambo, who leads the nation in steals, had seven of his game-high nine steals in the first half. The Lions forced 15 turnovers before intermission, finishing with 25.
Second Half Recap
He started the second half with a triple and a three-point play, and then assisted a jumper by Walter for a 59-31 lead. It capped a 39-8 run.
Maurice “Mo” Oglesby (Arlington, Tx / Zion Academy) knifed inside on a fast-break to start a surge that saw Team Purp seize a 71-35 advantage. A Guidry trey from Oglesby helped extend the run to 50-13.
Now, it was the Tigers who couldn't keep up.
Guidry bombed from downtown on a kick out pass from Nwelue, Rambo turned a fastbreak pass into an old-fashioned three-point play, followed by transition layups by Oglesby and Ford.
Sporting brightly colored sneaks, Guidry then swiped the ball and weaved his way through traffic, scored, was fouled and netted the ‘and one’ for an 84-42 upper-hand.
Four players reached double-digits for SAGU. Rambo bagged 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Guidry added a career-best 16 (three 3’s, three assists), Oglesby had 12 (career-high) and Gentry netting 10.
Emmanuel Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / LR Parkview HS) and Alford each led the charges on the glass, grabbing nine caroms apiece, while Walter latched onto seven.
SAGU owned the boards, 58-37, including 19 on offense.
Thirteen players scored, with eleven credited with assists.
The large victory margin has been rare this season. Wins by 10-points or less have been more common, happening 13 times. Between 11-20 points: six times.
Triumphs of 20+ have come on just five occasions; against Dallas Christian College (20), Paul Quinn (22), Bacone College (26), Arlington Baptist College (27), and the University of the Southwest (32).
The Tigers were led by Aaron McCuin (Cyoo-in, like 'cue' ball), a 6’6 senior forward. He racked up 25 points and seven boards. He had 25 and 16 in the first meeting between the teams in January, a 67-55 Lions triumph.
Richardson, Dempsey and Urune scored 15, 14 and 13 respectively.
In a game that got out of hand in the middle for the Tigers, they maintained their composure and never eased up or backed down. Excellent sportsmanship was shown by both teams, with few reasons for otherwise.
Color Thursday's showdown with OLLU, loud Purple
The Lions next game is Thursday, when OLLU visits. The explosive Saints compete with a similar style as SAGU; rebounding on both ends and intensity.
The Blue Halos, who gave the Lions their worst setback of the season a year ago, have the nation’s third highest scoring team at 91 points per game.
Head Coach Russell Vanlandingham’s team averages 12.2 three-point baskets per game, the best in the NAIA. The Lions are at no. 28 with 7.3 treys.
A year they also were tops at the trifecta, making 12.4 per outing. SAGU was third in the country at 9.8.
The two teams rank first and third in the NAIA in offensive rebounds.
The stage is set for a possible classic showdown at 7:30pm (CST). A packed crowd is anticipated on “Loud Purple” night.
Fans can watch the action in HD on SAGU TV. Rob Price, Tim Roberts and Bianca Alarcon will be courtside for the broadcast by SAGU Sports Live.