Curbed Enthusiasm: Lions Rally Falls Short
Wiley College tops SAGU men, 92-77
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Earning the lead in a Broadway musical or at NASCAR is a challenge for even the most talented. In sports it illustrates the spirit of competition. On Saturday night it proved incredibly elusive.
After falling behind by 14 points in the first half, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men's basketball team recovered and reduced their deficit to two points on five different occasions in the second stanza, but never caught up. Wiley College staved off the comeback bid by the host Lions, and then pulled away for a 92-77 triumph at the Sheaffer Center.
The loss, the third in four league games for the Lions, dropped SAGU to 7-13 on the season and to 5-11 in the Red River Athletic Conference. They remain in eighth place. The top eight teams in the 12-team league will qualify for the RRAC tournament, held March 3-5 at Southwestern.
Wiley improved to 12-11 in all games and 8-7 in league action. The Wildcats are in sixth and have claimed victories in four of their last six contests. The win was the first in a make-or-break series of six straight games on the road for Coach Andre Payne's team.
Southwestern, who never led, couldn't match the Wildcats speed or depth. While both teams grabbed 38 rebounds and made 46% of their shots, the Lions coughed up the ball 24 times, fifteen by their guards. It resulted in Wiley getting 22 more shot attempts, an advantage they fully exploited. Wiley committed twelve turnovers.
Capturing the Elusive Lead
The Lions began the second half with a spirited bid to snatch the lead and take it as their prisoner. While they came close, they couldn't size it for an orange jumpsuit.
Using their big guns, they launched threes from the perimeter. Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / West Plano HS) connected on one, and then made a layup on a bold drive from the top of the key. Peter Dutton (Houston, Tx / Booker T. Washington HS) triggered another 3-ball with an assist from Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ of North Texas, Waco HS), slicing the debt to six, 51-45, with 15:12 left in the game.
Horne sent a pass to Ward, who scored, was fouled and went to the charity stripe for the "and one." He missed, but Gabriel Clark (Modesto, Ca / Modesto HS) snarfed the rebound and muscled it for a putback. SAGU was within 53-51 (13:26), a 22-8 run. But they would get no closer.
Baskets by Horne, Ward, Clark and another stick-back by Clark each drew the Lions to within two, the last occurring with 7:03 remaining and SAGU trailing, 69-67. Wiley would close the game by scoring 23 of the final 33 points.
Cossey Quells the Lions Storm
The Wildcats weathered the storm with a steady dose of Alexander Cossey, their cat-quick point guard. Coupled with Donoval Campbell, the pair scored five baskets to answer each time the Pride approached the lead.
Horne, who led all scorers with a game-high 24 points, swished a pair of free throws with the clock reading 4:44. SAGU was on the short end of a 76-71 score. Cossey, the Player of the Game, then sealed the deal.
He stole the ball from Horne during a move in the paint and went the distance for a layup. Then, after Graylin Smith grabbed a missed trifecta by Horne, he took a transition pass and zoomed for a fastbreak deuce to pad their lead at 80-71. Ball game.
Player and Team Totes
Horne bucketed 24 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He stroked a pair of triples and was good on all ten of his free throws. He added five assists and a pair of steals. Ward totaled 18 points and nine rebounds, while Gibson finished with 16 points. He hit four-of-five beyond the arc, but got only eight shot attempts on the night. He had three assists.
Clark continues to make waves. The 6'8 power forward came off the bench and ripped down a game-high 11 boards, scored nine points and swatted seven shots. He had one thunder dunk and was hacked hard while trying two others. Dutton reeled in five rebounds and Bosko Ognenovski (Bitola, Macedonia / State Fair Community College) scored five points.
Cossey led four in double-digits for Wiley with 23. He had four steals and a pair of treys. Jemarri Gunn, their leading scorer on the season, netted 18. Marquis Wright, a senior, small forward, was active on both ends of the floor. He registered 13 points, yanked down five caroms, dished out a pair of helpers and was a thief three different times.
Diminutive reserve guard Freddie Haynes tossed in ten points and was one of nine Wildcats who played over twelve minutes.
Team statistics were virtually even except for the turnovers. Wiley's starters were guilty of just six miscues. The Lions' quintet made 21, much to the credit of the Wildcats high-velocity defense.
Speaking of defense, it was the seventh time SAGU yielded over 90 points, and the 13th time in twenty games that opponents scored more than 85. Conversely, Wiley's opposition have crossed the 90-point marker just twice and only three times surpassing 85.
It was thr third consecutive win over SAGU by LSUS.
First Half Recap
The Wildcats had a 26-19 lead with 5:10 left in the first half. Over the next 3:11 they extended the margin during a 13-6 run, keyed by a three-point basket and a steal by Gunn. He converted the takeaway into a breakaway dunk. They lead at intermission, 43-31. Horne was tops in points with 12.
Next Up for Southwestern, LSU-Shreveport
Southwestern returns to the court on Monday, February 7. They will travel 185 miles east and cross the Red River to play the nation's #3 ranked team. Louisiana State University at Shreveport is 21-1 overall and 14-1 in the conference. The Pilots crushed the RRAC's fourth place squad, Paul Quinn College, 86-49, on Saturday night. They have eclipsed 85 points in fifteen of their 22 games.
LSU-S, who got off to a 16-0 start this season, topped the Lions, 94-70, in Waxahachie on December 4. The game will start at 7:30pm in The Dock.
Southwestern returns home next Saturday, February 12, when they face Texas College (12-8, 11-3), the Red River's third place team.
The newest member of the RRAC, LSU-Shreveport has become a juggernaut in the NAIA under head coach Chad McDowell. (See graph below) The league may add the University of St. Thomas (Houston) in the near future. The Celts are currently 9-10, and have a win over Texas Wesleyan (20-2, 13-1 in RRAC) to their credit.
Sophomore James Southerland (Macomb, Ill / Macomb HS) has been upgraded to day-to-day by the SAGU Sports Medicine staff. The 6'6 forward has been out for three weeks with a high ankle sprain. He returned to practice on Thursday.
LSU-Shreveport "Pilots" - Last Eight Seasons
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