One that Got Away: Lions Fall, 93-91
SAGU loses 3-point, last minute lead and tourney bid
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma -- The regular season came to an end on Monday night in Muskogee for both men's basketball teams from Southwestern Assemblies of God University and Bacone College. Neither was able to fulfill their hopes of qualifying for a berth in this week's Red River Athletic Conference tournament.
Like the waters flowing downstream along the Arkansas River, eight other teams will see their season flow towards Buffalo Creek (Waxahachie). Bacone's chance disappeared on Saturday in a close, 62-58 home loss to Paul Quinn College. SAGU's was snuffed out in the closing seconds last night, 93-91, in the Palmer Center.
Both squads displayed inspired basketball that left one team celebrating, the other knowing they let one get away.
The Lions (9-19 overall, 7-15 in RRAC), who led most of the second half, were on top, 91-88 following a pair of free throws by junior Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ of North Texas, Waco HS) with 0:38 left. After a timeout the Warriors (12-17, 7-15) set up a play for their top scorer, Chad Tyler. He came off a screen and fired the needed three-pointer from the right wing, but missed.
Game's Pivotal Play
A questionable call on Horne by an official rewarded Tyler with three foul shots. While there was no contact made on the play, Tyler's pretense sold the call that gave the Warriors life. There he capitalized by doing something the Lions struggled to do all night. He made his free throws, all three, tying the score with 0:22 to go.
Horne, the nation's leading scorer, drove inside and missed a highly contested layup as the clock flashed 0:13 remaining. Going for a loose ball near the basket Horne was called for another foul. Tyler netted both tries from the solo stripe for what would be the game-winning points with eleven ticks yet to be played.
The Lions' fate went south when freshman Craig Grigsby (Houston, Tx / Glenda Dawson HS) slashed inside but his layup, too, was left wanting. Da'Tron Harris (Waco, Tx / Waco HS), another speedy freshman, grabbed the rebound and missed on a bid for three at the buzzer.
It was the sixth loss this season by four points or less, including two 3-point setbacks to Paul Quinn College (19-11, 14-8 in RRAC).
Uncharitable Free Throws
Southwestern hindered their cause by missing 16 of their 36 free throws, making only 14 of 24 attempts in the second half.
First Half Summary
Close throughout, the Warriors had the lead for all but fifty seconds in the first half, when they shot 51% from the field. SAGU outboarded the hosts, 25-22, but hit just 40% of their attempts and half of their 12 free throws.
Bacone took their largest lead of the evening, 24-17, when Dallas Juniel (pronounced Jah-NEEL) turned a pick into a downcourt layup. Southwestern took the lead twice, 33-32 on a Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / West Plano HS) trifecta (5:36) and when Harris scored after snaring an offensive rebound (36-35, 4:29).
Bacone regained the lead and extended it to 44-38 on a Juniel three-ball (2:36) before the Lions finished strong. Nathaniel Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Connally HS) tossed in a pair of foul shots, Bosko Ognenovski (Bitola, Macedonia / State Fair Community College) banged home an offensive stickback before Ward beat the buzzer to draw SAGU to within 46-44 at the break.
Second Half Overview
Southwestern held the upper hand for much of the second frame, but not before the Warriors built their halftime credit to 54-47. Terrance Roby, a 6'8 redwood inside, converted a three-point play at 18:25 to match their largest lead.
Over the next 9:40 the Lions had the Warriors on the run, outscoring them by a 29-12 count. They had momentum and a 76-66 margin with 8:45 showing on the game clock.
SAGU's impressive comeback was ignited by some determined inside play of Ognenovski. In his finest hour he played large and was in charge, scoring several of his 15 points to blow wind in the sails of the Purple Pride. His offensive putback of a missed triple by Gibson put the visitors on top, 58-57, at the 15:30 mark.
Horne and Gibson, the playmakers, made baskets to keep "old Mo" in a purple jersey. But he was fickle in the clutch.
After forcing a Warrior turnover, Horne connected with Gibson for another bucket and a 72-66 margin. Bosko pitched a tent in the paint, where Gibson acknowledged his squatter's rights, spotting him for a deuce. 74-66, 9:02. The lead swelled to ten after Ward rejected a Roby drive. Grigsby retrieved the rebound and jetted from New York to LA for breakaway scoop shot. The Jungle Kings had their biggest bulge, 76-66, at 8:45.
The rest of the way saw Bacone battle back and Southwestern struggle to finish them off.
Down the stretch the Lions made 4-of-10 shots (1-of-3 beyond the arc), commit three turnovers and miss 6-of-12 FT's. Theirs scorers over the final 8:45 were Horne, who accounted for nine, with Ward and Gibson adding four and three respectively.
Officials cited SAGU for seven fouls during the stretch run, while Bacone was whistled for six.
The difference was the Warriors cashing in their chips, swishing 11-of-13 foul shots. SAGU missed their final five shots, all in the final 58 seconds.
Bacone shot over 50% in both halves to finish at 52% (32-of-61), compared to the Lions' 42% (31-of-74). Bacone was 8-of-19 from long distance (42%), to SAGU's 9-of-23 (39%). On the line, the Warriors connected the dots on 21-of-30 (70%) to the Lions 20-of-36 (56%). SAGU has led the RRAC in free throw shooting throughout the season.
The Lions controlled the boards, 48-41, including a whopping 23-12 margin on the offensive glass. In turnovers, SAGU coughed the ball up 16 times to 19 by the Tribe. Both teams racked up 26 personal fouls, with two players apiece collecting five.
For the second time this season SAGU had three players score 20+ points. Horne led the way with 25, making 8-of-15 field, including 3-of-6 treys and 6-of-9 FT's. Gibson finished with 21 (8-of-20, 5-of-12 threes), while Ward racked up an even 20 (6-of-12 shots). Ward, who led the NAIA in rebounds entering the weekend, snatched 13 more.
Bosko accumulated 15 points and a dozen caroms before fouling out after 27 minutes. Grigbsy scored four, while Harris and Ryan Russell (Justin, Tx / Northwest HS) each netted three.
Tyler paced five Warriors in double figures with 20 points. Others were; Juniel 17, James Scott 16, Roby 12 and Cedric Brown 11.
Southwestern won the first match this season, 100-92, on January 24.
Next Up for SAGU, the NCCAA Regional
Southwestern, who enjoys dual membership in both the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA, Division I) and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA, Div. I), have entered the NCCAA Central Regional Tournament. The wholesome option is set for Oklahoma City, Oklahoma during March 10-12.
Mid-America Christian University, located on the southwest side of OKC, will play host to the event.
A year ago they defeated SAGU in the finals, which were hosted by Southwestern. The Lions were the #8 seed when they upset Dallas Baptist University (18-11), the top seed, in the opening round, 92-87. In the semi-finals the Lions beat Arkansas' Central Baptist College (18-10), 72-64, before falling, late to MACU (18-15), 77-69.
There could be as many as 10-teams in the field, depending on how they do in their own conference tournaments. The field includes; Dallas Baptist University, Mid-America Christian, York College (Neb), Colorado Christian University, Central Christian College (Kan), Central Baptist College, Crowley's Ridge College (Ark), Ecclesia College (Ark), Southwest Christian University (Ok) and SAGU.
The winner at regionals will advance to an 8-team field at the NCCAA Nationals. That three-day tourney will be held over March 17-19 at Oakland City, Indiana. The tourney host is Oakland City University. OCU is 28 miles north of Evansville in the far southwest corner of the Hoosier State.