SAGU survives Drovers, 62-58
Defense shuts down USAO in second half
Nwelue, Adoyi, Walter, Rambo force 27 turnovers
KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- Trailing by as many as twelve points in the first half, Southwestern Assemblies of God University overcame the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 62-58, in the first round of the NAIA national tournament.
The Lions, now 30-4, prevailed in spite of a shooting 9-of-29 (.310) in a first half in which they made 11 turnovers and missed five of eight from the foul line.
Inspired by their staple trademark defense, SAGU forced 27 turnovers, sixteen after intermission.
Meanwhile, the offense regrouped with a second half performance that was efficient; just four turnovers, while converting 13-of-34 (.382) from the court and netting 13-of-17 free throws (.765).
After a 10-0 run tied the game for the first time at 40 apiece with 12:02 to play, the game turned into a series of mini-runs, big shots and defensive plays.
The Lions took their first lead at 52-51 on back-to-back baskets by Mike Nwelue (Lewisville, Tx / Lewisville HS), a turn-around jumper on the left, low block, and a wrap-around pass from Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ., Trinity Christian School) in the paint.
When Zacharias Lewis drained a three-point basket for a 55-53 advantage with 5:23 to go, the Drovers would make only one more shot the rest of the way.
Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) stroked a pair from the charity stripe to level the scoreboard at 55 at the 5:02 mark.
Sophomore Jon Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS) stole the ball from Kennis White and parlayed the possession into a score that put SAGU on top to stay.
From atop the key on the right side, he zipped an entry pass to Emmanuel Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / Parkview HS) for a layup with 3:04 showing on the Municipal Arena clock.
Rambo, who struggled with his shot, countered by being a menace on defense.
The junior point guard, credited with seven steals, swiped the ball near midcourt and dashed in for an easy layup and a four-point lead with a minute remaining.
Shavon (shah-VON) Scott nailed a triple from the left wing to pull the Drovers to within 59-58 at 0:29. It was their first points in over five minutes.
A missed front-end of a one-and-one by SAGU was negated when Nwelue (like DWELL-way) rejected USAO’s leading scorer, Norris Rumpf, with Adoyi snatching the rebound.
The freshman was fouled and cashed in two clutch free throws for a 61-58 margin with fifteen seconds left.
Science & Arts had a last, gasp bid for a tying trey. Scott caught a pass and a screen to shoot behind from the left wing.
He eschewed the shot, maneuvered to his left, and just as he left the ground to launch a trifecta, he saw the outstretched arm of a leaping Adoyi. Scott pulled his shot back and was called for traveling.
Nwelue iced the game with two from the stripe, much to the delight of a solid contingent of SAGU fans.
USAO (17-10) won the boards, 42-35, but the Lions’ 17-12 control of the offensive glass was pivotal. It led to the team getting extra possessions and a 63-50 advantage in shots attempted.
Walter latched onto five offensive caroms while Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ. of N.Texas, Connally HS) and Adoyi each had four.
Nwelue, thanks to 8-of-12 shooting, led the team with a game-high 19 points. He also had a pair of blocks and steals. His two dunks sparked a 13-4 burst in the second half to tie the score at 40.
Rambo tossed in 12 points, bagged six assists and seven steals.
Guidry drilled two treys in a 10-point effort that saw him receive 30 minutes of court time.
Adoyi, the team’s rising defensive stopper, finished with nine points, eight boards, three assists and a blocked shot.
Quotes from the frontline
After the game he was all smiles.
“I love defense,” he said. “That’s what I do."
Rambo said that it was Adoyi’s defense that helped determine the outcome.
“We won, and he (pointing at E-Man) is the main reason.”
“It was a big win,” quipped Head Coach Donnie Bostwick. “The game was a microcosm of the way we’ve played all season, building as we went along, and then finishing strong.”
“Our defense made stops along the way down the stretch. We didn’t have anyone who played much better than good, but as a team, collectively we played great.”
The Lions now advance to the second round. They will face Martin Methodist College (Tenn) (21-10), who held off no. 11 Westmont College (Cal) (25-8), 71-65.
The game will begin at Friday at 9:00am (CST).
USAO’s veteran Head Coach Brisco McPherson was full of praise for his squad as well as SAGU.
“I’m proud of the way we played,” he said. “Defensively, we were great. We really competed on the defensive end.”
“We had good shots but we just gave them too many opportunities with turnovers,” he continued. “It’s not that we didn’t want to win. That team (SAGU) is so scrappy.”
Click here for the article and box score from the NAIA website