Lions crowned RRAC champions
Streak at 17 after 86-67 win over Wiley
Barrage of treys proves too much for Wildcats
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Behind unselfish distribution of the ball and a steady second half barrage of three-point baskets, Southwestern Assemblies of God University moved past both Wiley College, 86-67, and a recent history barren of crowning achievements.
Senior Nathaniel “Duce” Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N. Texas, Connally HS) led three players in double figures with 15 points.
Jon Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS) and Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Trinity Christian School) scored 13 and 10 points respectively.
Walter, a sophomore, connected on a trio of three-point baskets to lead a group of eleven players who combined to make 15 trifectas, ten during the second half.
The team vaulted to a 15-4 lead on a dunk from Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS) and triples by Rambo and Mo Oglesby (Arlington, Tx / Zion Academy).
On the strength of the energetic play of Vanderis Christie (21 points), the Wildcats cut the deficit to 31-30 with 3:48 to go in the first half. Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Okla. Wesleyan Univ., Hondo HS), Rambo and Nwelue scored to give SAGU a 41-35 advantage at the half.
Ward, whose modus operandi is big performances on the biggest stages, propelled the team out of the locker room.
He scored from the baseline, then knocked down a three-ball from the top of the key thanks to a Gentry assist. A high-arching rainmaker by the 6'5 forward pushed the lead to 49-39.
Rambo spent the game making plays for others. He made a trey from the right wing and assisted a Nwelue turnaround jumper from the low block before a Ward tip-in gave the Lions a 61-46 margin.
Walter passed to Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) for back-to-back threes and a 74-52 upper-hand.
Coach Bostwick emptied the bench for the final 3+ minutes. That group made three baskets, all from beyond the arc, to reward fans with six free wings from Buffalo Wild Wings.*
A more detailed review of the game will be posted on-line on Sunday. It will include the ox score and action pictures.
RRAC Championship Summary
In a game in which they led from the outset, SAGU won their first-ever league title since joining the 300-member National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
They are now aligned with the SAGU Track & Field team of 2000 as the only champions of the Red River Athletic Conference since the university stepped up and onto the larger national scene.
Played before a large and appreciative crowd, the victory extended the team’s winning streak to 17 and improved the Lions’ won-lost record to 26-3.
The Lions clinched the RRAC regular season championship with a 19-2 mark and completed their home schedule at 12-3.
Ranked no. 7 in the nation in last week’s Top 25 Coaches Poll, they automatically qualify for a berth in the NAIA’s 32-team tournament. That event will be held in Kansas City, Missouri during March 13-19.
The Lions began their meteoric rise a year ago when they experienced the largest turnaround in college basketball. They went from 10-21 two years ago to 27-11 in their first season under Head Coach Donnie Bostwick.
By earning a bid to the NAIA tournament they unite with the 2006 Lions of Head Coach Jerry Boone, who also made it to the big event. That team earned their way by virtue of advancing to the championship game of the RRAC tournament.
Following the traditional post-game cutting of the nets and a celebration reception, the moment was seized by Jesse Godding, the SAGU Athletic Director.
“Historically this is the second conference championship for SAGU,” said Godding. “But this is not about history.”
“Rather, this is about a point in time for a group of young men and coaches who have chosen to give great effort throughout the course of this season and now receive a tangible reward for that effort.”
“Coach Bostwick has directed his team in a manner that honors and brings glory to God,” he continued. “It’s a tremendous accomplishment but thankfully they are not done playing.”
They wrap-up the regular season schedule by returning to the court on Monday, February 25, with a road trip at LSU-Shreveport. The no. 19 ranked Pilots are 21-6 overall. They are the last team to hand the Lions a setback, 92-64, on December 13.
The Lions will play host to the RRAC tournament next weekend, March 1-2 and 4. The top eight squads among the league's 14 men’s teams convene in Waxahachie to determine who receives a second bid to the NAIA national playoff.
SAGU’s next game will be on Friday, March 1, at 4:00pm. They will face either Wiley College or Langston University.
Note: Fans can view and/or purchase from among hundreds of action photos of the game and the post-game celebration will soon be posted on-line at www.movingpictures.photoreflect.com.
Also, watch for the video highlights of the game on the Facebook fan page of SAGU Sports Live.
*The Waxahachie Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant provides six free wings (with a purchase) to all in attendance (fans are given a coupon upon exiting the Sheaffer Center) when the team makes 14 three-point baskets.