Horne, Lions Dunk Rams, 81-70
Explosive Performance Keys SAGU Victory
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Led by captain Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ of North Texas, Waco HS), who scored 21 of his game-high 29 points during the second half, Southwestern Assemblies of God University defeated Huston-Tillotson University, 81-70, on Saturday night.
Like blowing the shofar to signal a warning, Horne was sounding off throughout Sheaffer Full Life Center. But was his demonstrative, flying one-handed slam that will be long remembered. In a game that was tight throughout, Horne, from 35 feet out, saw a crease in the Tillotson defense. The 6-foot-1 junior jetted down the middle like Schwartzkopf took Kuwait. Beating a defender, Horne threw the ball through the cylinder as though it would end a seven-game losing streak. And it did.
It also sent the crowd into a delirious response. The Lions would never lose the lead after his dunk.
SAGU held HT scoreless over the final 2:27 while scoring the final nine points of the game to seal the deal.
The Lions improved their won-lost record to 4-9 and saw their mark in the Red River Athletic Conference rise to 2-6. The victory allowed the Purple Pride to move past University of the Southwest (7-9, 2-7) into eighth place in the RRAC.
To their credit, the Rams, now 0-17 on the season, played with the zest of a team believing "this was their day."
Huston-Tillotson (pronounced like the city, Houston) was aggressive on the boards, once holding a +16 margin in rebounds shortly after intermission, had their only lead in the second half, 37-36, with 17:20 to play. Jerald Ardoin grabbed an offensive board to set up guard James Black for a three-pointer.
Taking Over, Taking Charge
The Lions took the lead right back on a pair of foul shots by sophomore forward Nathaniel Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Univ of North Texas, Connally HS). Seconds later came a three-point play by Horne for a 40-37 advantage they would not relinquish.
Trust Him, He's a Doctor
Battle-tested veteran head coach, Dr. Jerry Boone was at his best on Saturday. Faced with the loss of one starter and unable to play another due to injuries, ineligibility or other concerns, he subjugated the situation with strategic changes.
He inserted cat-quick freshman Craig Grigsby (Houston, Tx / Glenda Dawson HS) at point guard. Coach Boone then moved Horne to the two-guard position to take advantage of his playmaking game. Now eligible, 6'4 junior guard Peter Dutton (Houston, Tx / Booker T. Washington HS) is a capable scorer and finisher.
But the most obvious addition was the acquisition of Gabriel Clark (Modesto, Ca / Modesto HS). The 6'8 sophomore with the 73 inch wingspan was huge in the second half. Clark snared nine of his 14 rebounds and blocked six of his eight shots after intermission. His presence affected a number of shots in the paint.
Ward, the NAIA leader in rebounding, took advantage of the attention his new teammate garnered by scoring 15 points and grabbing 14 boards. His highlight was when he took a lob from Horne and stuffed it for a crowd-pleasing dunk.
Also benefitting by Clark's arrival is 6'9 Bosko Ognenovski (Bitola, Macedonia / State Fair Community College), who scored five points, hauled down three boards, blocked a shot and jammed a two-hander.
Key Second Half Series for SAGU
A key sequence of plays revealed several components of the new-look Lions. Trailing 43-40, HT's Joel Jones drove inside but was denied when Clark swatting his short jumper. During SAGU's ensuing possession, Grigsby was fouled in the paint, and then converted a pair of free throws with 17:12 to play.
The Rams next trip down the court was cut short when Clark stole the ball from Jimmy Skyes at the low block. Their next bid to score was equally frustrating. Skyes, at 6'6, had his shot impeded by the long arm of Clark's law. The Rams picked up the loose ball only to have Jones' layup erased by Clark. It set up Horne for a 16-footer and a 47-40 lead at 16:30.
Terrance Bryant tried his hand against Clark's condor-like swatter. Same result. Access denied. Racing downcourt was Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / West Plano HS), who zipped a crosscourt dart to Horne. He drained it for a nine-point advantage.
Clark later influenced a Skyes attempt, rebounded the ball and delivered an outlet pass. In transition it was punctuated when Grigsby fed Horne for a trifecta at the 11:12 mark. SAGU was on top, 55-51.
From there the Purple Pride began to assert their will on the game's outcome. A Dutton pass to Gibson on the wing was launched for a clutch 3-bomb. The Lions led by seven with 8:14 remaining. Moments later Horne slashed inside, was fouled, scored, and swished the "and one." SAGU led 66-57.
The Rams, who have lost ten games by 10-points or less, rallied to within 72-70 when Ardoin gunned a trey from the top of the key with 2:27 left.
Southwestern Closes with 9-0 Run
Southwestern applied the brakes to the HT attack and their losing skid. Free throws from Clark, Horne and Grigsby preceded a Horne-to-Dutton combination for a field goal and a 79-70 advantage. Ward polished off the win with a pair of FT's in the last minute.
Player and Team Totes
SAGU placed four players in double figures; Horne 29, Ward 15, Gibson 12 and Grigsby with 11. The Rams were led by Black, who netted 21, and Ardoin and Terrence Jackson who both had 12 apiece.
The Lions were outrebounded by a 53-42 count. However, they forced 21 turnovers, 13 in the second half. SAGU held the edge in shooting as they converted 42% of their tries while limiting the Rams to 33%. Tillotson countered with a 22-11 advantage in offensive boards which gave them a 73-59 margin in shots attempted.
Thanks to the closing minutes the Lions had the upper hand in free throws where they made 23 of 37. Tillotson netted 17 of 25.
Home Stand Continues on Monday: SAGU vs OLLU
Southwestern, with four more games in a row at home, ride the momentum of the win with San Antonio's Our Lady of the Lake University (9-6, 5-3) visiting on Monday at 7:30pm. The Saints are tied in fourth in the league after a 73-70 overtime setback at Paul Quinn College (10-6, 5-3) on Saturday.
The Blue Halos took both games last winter. They edged the Lions in the FLC, 112-107, then topped them 104-95 in overtime at their Mabee Gymnasium.