Duce Ward the difference in 81-79 must-win

LANGSTON, Oklahoma -- Few things settle as many problems as a win. Like love, a victory covers a multitude of sins. No wonder all seems well following a triumph.

Saturday night's 81-79 defeat of Langston University (2-24, 2-19 in RRAC) kept alive the hopes of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University (9-18, 7-14 in RRAC) men's basketball team.

With another win on Monday at Bacone College (11-17, 6-15), coupled with a University of the Southwest (13-15, 8-13) loss at Jarvis Christian College (12-18, 9-12), the Lions would earn a berth in the Red River Athletic Conference tournament. All of the men's games will be played in the Sheaffer Center.

The RRAC tourney will take place this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Waxahachie. Only the top eight teams in the league get to compete, with a berth in the NAIA national playoffs at stake for the top two clubs. In 2006 the Lions made their only trip to the 32-team big dance by advancing to the tournament finals.

Winning When the Chips were Down

Lately the odds of post-season life have not been rosy. In fact, SAGU had dropped seven of their previous eight outings. Entering the Langston game the Lions had a 1-8 road record when facing teams in the Red River. Saying things weren't going smoothly of late was an understatement.

They were as "rough as pine lumber with the splinters still on*"

Most fans left the bandwagon weeks ago as the losses piled up. However, Head Coach Jerry Boone and his staff kept the squad believing and playing hard.

The hard-fought win didn't solve the team's weaknesses, but, with one game remaining, they still have plenty to play for. Players on the team bus afterwards were as a happy as a cat who has been in the cream!

A veteran of the long, grinding effects of a season, Coach Boone spoke of the "team effort" that resulted in the much-needed triumph. "Many guys stepped up," he said after the game. "Duce (Ward) was simply great! He gave us offense when we needed it, especially with his board work on the offensive glass."

"Ryan Russell was solid again," he said of the sophomore who brings his hard hat to the game. "The guys keep working hard, patching things up."

Boone sounded as satisfied as a boy with a slingshot in a heaven of greenhouses!

His Lions have another shot!

Game Summary: The Final Two Minutes

Southwestern led from late in the first half until the final two minutes. That's when Langston rallied to go up by one on a three-point play by forward Eric Harris. In danger of watching their post-season hopes blow away like leaves in the fall, the Lions answered quickly.

Nathaniel Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Connally HS) scored inside to reclaim the lead. On their next possession the Purple Pride got a three-ball from an unlikely source. During a transition break, freshman guard Craig Grigsby (Houston, Tx / Glenda Dawson HS), who is known as a slasher and finisher, knocked down a pull-up triple to give the Cats a huge lift. Threecola!

SAGU added to a three-point lead when Grigsby split a pair of free throws with 20 seconds remaining. After a defensive stop, Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / West Plano HS) made 1-of-2 to push the margin to 81-76 with 0:08 to play. Langston canned a trey at the buzzer for the final points.

"It was a 'team' win," proclaimed a jubilant Assistant Coach Jimmie Williams from inside a noisy team bus afterwards. "It was a lot of fun, a lot of hollering in the locker room." Wins will do that.

SAGU wasn't looking like a winner for a while in the first half.

First Half Revisited

Langston's Lions came out strong. Coach Greg Webb's young squad used an 18-8 run to build a 25-15 lead on a Charles Tucker layup with 10:44 left in the half. He unleashed Curtis Thompson early and often. The 6'5 forward and leading scorer for the rebuilding Lions (15.7 ppg) was held to six points in a January 22nd defeat in Waxahachie.

He had it going as his shots were "G-double-O-D GOOD" from the opening tip. He poured in Langston's first 10 points, including a pair of treys. When they took their 10-point lead, he was joined in the attack by Harris's six points and four from Calen Parks. Shelby Coursey also drained a triple during that surge.

SAGU goes Small to Comeback Big!

Team Purp countered with a line-up that was very successful previously this year. They went small, utilizing Grigsby and Da'Tron Harris (Waco, Tx / Waco HS) at the top, pressing the opposing ballhandlers, with Gibson, Ward and Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ of North Texas, Waco HS) on the floor.

They began pressing, then alternated a myriad of defensive schemes including man-to-man and zone packages. SAGU's defense has been under siege over the past month. With an average of 85 points for opponents, the changes was well received and made a difference.

They Went to Jared!

The velocity unit turned things around. And when the team needed it most, Gibson was money.

He triggered a trifecta on a pass from Horne to start the Lions counter-attack. Ryan Russell (Justin, Tx / Northwest HS), the proletariat 6'4 combo guard checked in, then delivered the goods. Horne fired a dart inside and RR charged inside for a bucket, drawing SAGU to within 27-20.

After a Horne foul shot, Gibson started raining down rainbows. Ward made a steal and got the ball to Southwestern's long-distance operator. He ripped the nets at the 6:10 mark. He unloaded another mortar shot and the Lions were knocking on the door, down 29-27.

Grigsby picked a pocket and his outlet pass found Gibson. Giddy and his zone, he popped another three and Langston's lead was chopped to one, 31-30. Horne seized the lead when he scored in the lane, was fouled, and added the 'and one' for a 33-31 advantage with 3:21 remaining.

After Langston went up 36-33, Ward scored on a putback with 0:56 to go. SAGU claimed the lead at the break, 41-38, on a pair of free throws by both Gibson and Harris.

Nation's Top Scorer helps Engineer Road Win

They managed the lead behind balanced scoring until the closing minutes. Wearing a target on his back, Horne fought off a determined defensive effort to help lead the team to the win. His shot was off, but he still finished with 17 points, including a three and eight-of-nine free throws. He led both teams in assists. Horne took over the NAIA scoring lead a week ago, but said he would gladly take a chance for more games in exchange for the scoring title.

Southwestern had to play most of the game without Bosko Ognenovski (Bitola, Macedonia / State Fair Community College). The 6'9 sophomore took an elbow to the head and didn't return.

Late in the game the Lions got a key contribution from James Southerland (Macomb, Ill / Macomb HS) whose hustle drew praise from the coaching staff.

Player and Team Totes

Gibson led the Lions with 21 points, connecting on 5-of-11 shots. Ward turned in perhaps his best effort of the season, especially considering the situation, netting 19 points while yanking 17 caroms off the boards. Russell had 10 points and six boards. Grigsby registered eight points.

Thompson finished with a game-high 33 points. He was good on 13-of-20 shots in 37 minutes. Harris, also a forward, powered in 20, while Parks totaled 10.

The purple-cladded Lions won in spite of being outshot, 47% to 37%. Langston was true on 52% in the first half but limited to 42% (13 of 31) after recess. The key reasons for their demise were turning the ball over 20 times (SAGU had only 14) and getting outrebounded, 43-41. Led by Ward, SAGU had a 14-7 margin on the offensive glass.

Missed Foul Shots:  Free but Costly

A critical edge was Southwestern's ability to convert from the free throw line. They swished 20-of-25 (80%) and continue to lead the RRAC in the category (73%). Langston, fourth in the league (68%), stroked 15-of-24 (62%). In the second half they were 12-of-19. The misses came back to haunt the orange Cats.

Big Monday Match:  SAGU vs Bacone

Monday's season finale against Bacone will pit two teams who are similar. SAGU, who won the first meeting, 100-92, have the edge in offense, 78.0 to 72.0. The Warriors play better defense, 77.8 to 84.7. If it comes down to three point efficiency, the Lions average 8.04 per game, which is tied for first with Our Lady of the Lake. Bacone is 12th at 3.96.

SAGU is 2-8 on the road this year, while Bacone is 4-6 in home conference games. The Warriors, who finished fifth in the league last year before winning the conference tournament, won in the Palmer Center last year, 87-79. This time, there is plenty on the line for Southwestern.

*Quote by the late American author, Douglas C. Jones

Current Red River Athletic Conference Standings

TEAM RRAC RECORD RRAC WIN PCT OVERALL RECORD OVERALL WIN % STREAK
Texas Wesleyan 20-1 .952 27-2 .931 Won 14
LSU-Shreveport 18-3 .857 25-3 .893 Won 2
Texas College 17-4 .810 18-9 .667 Won 1
Paul Quinn 13-8 .619 18-11 .621 Won 2
Our Lady of the Lake 13-8 .619 17-11 .607 Lost 1
Wiley College 11-10 .524 15-14 .517 Won 2
Jarvis Christian 9-12 .429 12-18 .400 Lost 2
Univ of Southwest 8-13 .381 13-15 .464 Lost 1
SAGU 7-14 .333 9-18 .333 Won 1
Bacone College 6-15 .286 11-17 .393 Lost 1
Langston 2-19 .095 2-24 .077 Lost 9
Huston-Tillotson 2-19 .095 2-28 .067 Lost 2

MOUNTAIN DUCE: Rebounding, blocking shots, scoring, the work of Nathaniel Duce Ward (right). Photo by Joe Valdez.

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Lions steady in 86-80 road win over Wesleyan

Jan 10, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

Gentry, Walter, Adoyi come up big to stymie Rams SAGU hosts USAO on Saturday at 5pm; rematch of NAIA opener Box Score and Standings (links below) FORT WORTH, Texas  --  Southw...

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SAGU in Ft. Worth to tangle with Rams

SAGU in Ft. Worth to tangle with Rams

Jan 09, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

Fans can make the short trip or follow on Live Stats Rebounding is urgent for Lady Lions; all-out defense for Lions Men's SAC Preview of all 11 teams (click here for attachment) ...

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SAGU moves up to No. 2 in NAIA Poll

SAGU moves up to No. 2 in NAIA Poll

Jan 08, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

Lions earn one first-place vote, trail UPike (12-1) Waxahachie, Texas — January 9, 2014 — Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) appears at No. 2 in this week’s N...

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Rambo garners National Player of the Week award

Rambo garners National Player of the Week award

Jan 07, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

Coach Bostwick explains individual honor is for the team Link to NAIA official announcement:  http://www.naia.org/  View Highlights vs. MACU (directions below) WAXAH...

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Rambo named SAC Player of the Week

Rambo named SAC Player of the Week

Jan 07, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

Senior point guard scored 40 and 32 points in two games Watch highlights of the win over MACU on Facebook WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  On the strength of averaging 36 points per ga...

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Lions place five in double-digits, win 79-66

Lions place five in double-digits, win 79-66

Jan 07, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

Back-to-back-to-back treys are one of three scoring runs Rambo, Walter, Feemster pace the Pride; SAGU plays Thursday at Rams Box Score, Standings links (below) BETHANY, Oklahoma &n...

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Lions cage high-scoring Evangels, 82-77

Lions cage high-scoring Evangels, 82-77

Jan 05, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

SAGU hands MACU first conference defeat Rambo, Feemster combine for 52 pts, defense forces 23 turnovers Photo Gallery, Box Score, Standings (links below) WAXAHACHIE, Texas  -- &nbs...

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Lions hold off MACU, 82-77, improve to 9-1

Lions hold off MACU, 82-77, improve to 9-1

Jan 05, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  No. 3 Southwestern Assemblies of God University overcame a quality opponent in nationally ranked Mid-America Christian University (Ok), 82-77, on Saturday evening i...

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SAGU hosts first-ever SAC games on Saturday

SAGU hosts first-ever SAC games on Saturday

Jan 04, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

MACU teams lead the SAC; men score 99 ppg Evangels rosters sprinkled with Texans; games aired in HD WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Playing Mid-America Christian University is not new for ...

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Lions corral Bison, 89-76

Lions corral Bison, 89-76

Jan 03, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

Rambo racks up 40, wins shootout with Woods Lions host front-running MACU on Saturday; game aired on SAGU TV Box Score, Play-by-Play, and Standings links below SHAWNEE, Oklahoma &...

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SAGU holds off OBU, 89-76; Rambo scores 40

SAGU holds off OBU, 89-76; Rambo scores 40

Jan 02, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

SHAWNEE, Oklahoma  --  In the first league game for Southwestern Assemblies of God University, behind the explosive play of Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Trinity Chr CH, Ok Wesleyan Univ&...

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Lions open league season Thursday at OBU

Lions open league season Thursday at OBU

Jan 02, 2014 - Men's Basketball News

Watch the match-up to SAC's top two teams in Coaches' Poll Game Day Preview / Video Coverage  (click here) WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The start of the league season in th...

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SAGU holds off Patriots, 75-70, improve to 7-1

SAGU holds off Patriots, 75-70, improve to 7-1

Dec 17, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Walter erupts for career-best 30 points Bostwick also lauds play of Gentry, Gumwell Links Below:   Box Score, Photo Gallery from the game, Current Standings, Individual Player Sta...

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Lions close semester at home on Monday

Lions close semester at home on Monday

Dec 16, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Arlington Baptist (4-5) takes on No. 3 SAGU (6-1) Patriots' ability to limit outside shooters will be put to the test WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The first semester comes to an end...

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No. 3 Lions shake off rust in 74-49 triumph

No. 3 Lions shake off rust in 74-49 triumph

Dec 11, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

SAGU depth, defense wears down Tigers Feemster, Walter fuel offense; Mitchell blocks seven shots Box Score (at bottom of story) Current SAC Standings:   http://www.soonerathle...

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Lions rise to #3 in NAIA Coaches Poll

Lions rise to #3 in NAIA Coaches Poll

Dec 11, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

SAGU is tied with Pikeville College in third Columbia College (8-0), Georgetown College (9-1) are No. 1, No. 2 (Entire Poll posted below) WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The first...

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Bostwick talks about being picked #2 in the SAC

Bostwick talks about being picked #2 in the SAC

Dec 08, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Lions Head Coach discusses fans and home games SAGU begins conference season the first week in January WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The start of Southwestern Assemblies of God Universit...

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SAGU has local road game on Tuesday

SAGU has local road game on Tuesday

Dec 08, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Catch the Lions, Lady Lions in S.E. Dallas Study Break for fans; SAGU has home game on Dec. 16 WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  While its finals week at Southwestern Assemblies of God Unive...

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SAC Coaches pick Lions to finish second

SAC Coaches pick Lions to finish second

Dec 05, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Oklahoma Baptist voted as the team beat SAGU hosts OBU on Jan. 4 in broadcast biggie WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The head coaches in the Sooner Athletic Conference picked Oklahoma Bapt...

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River Pilots steer past Lions, 84-75

River Pilots steer past Lions, 84-75

Nov 26, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

SAGU outscored 12-4 in final five minutes Conference season begin on Dec. 5 vs OKC Stars Box Score and Play By Play (links below) Next Coaches Top 25 Poll:  December 10 SH...

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No. 5 Lions take on #2 LSU-Shreveport tonight

No. 5 Lions take on #2 LSU-Shreveport tonight

Nov 25, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Fans can follow the game's play-by-play on-line Friendly rivals meet at 7pm on the Red River at The Dock SHREVEPORT, Louisiana  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God Universi...

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SAGU goes to 5-0, top Crusaders, 89-71

SAGU goes to 5-0, top Crusaders, 89-71

Nov 20, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Erskine pours in 23, Feemster has second double-double Next up for Lions; road trip to No. 2 LSU-Shreveport Current SAC Standings:   http://www.soonerathletic.org/sport/0/4.php ...

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Follow Lions roar tonight on Twitter

Follow Lions roar tonight on Twitter

Nov 19, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

SAGU teams play at 6pm/8pm in Richardson Games will be rematches from November 5th doubleheader WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s an...

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Lions cage Tigers, 82-67; whip 13 three-pointers

Lions cage Tigers, 82-67; whip 13 three-pointers

Nov 15, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

SAGU off to 4-0 start for third straight year Gentry, Guidry, Mills, Feemster reach double-digits Box Score (link below) SAC Standings:   http://www.soonerathletic.org/sport/0/4...

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SAGU entertains Paul Quinn tonight at 7:30pm

SAGU entertains Paul Quinn tonight at 7:30pm

Nov 14, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Men's hoopsters ranked No. 3 in NCCAA pre-season WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Ranked number 5 in the NAIA's Pre-Season Top 25 Coaches Poll, the Southwestern Assemblies of God Univer...

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Lions top No. 2 LSU-Shreveport, 83-72

Lions top No. 2 LSU-Shreveport, 83-72

Nov 12, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Erskine, defense propels No. 5 SAGU against Pilots O'Neill, Davis, Starks provide essential lift for Team Purp WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Sparked by a solid defensive effort, the ...

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#5 Lions host #2 LSU-Shreveport tonight at 7pm

#5 Lions host #2 LSU-Shreveport tonight at 7pm

Nov 12, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Teams almost met in last year's NAIA championship game Preview of Players to Watch WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Tonight’s clash between No. 2 ranked LSU-Shreveport and No. 5 r...

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SAGU tops McPherson in OT, 92-82

SAGU tops McPherson in OT, 92-82

Nov 11, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Gentry, Mills, Feemster lead Lions to 2-0 start On Deck: No. 2 ranked LSU-Shreveport on Tuesday Box Score  and SAC Standings (links below) WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Dem...

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Gentry's infectious, "all out" energy drives Lions

Gentry's infectious, "all out" energy drives Lions

Nov 07, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Wood-surfing typifies desire of senior leader NEXT: SAGU plays host to McPherson College, Sat., 5:00pm SAC Standings:  http://www.soonerathletic.org/sport/0/4.php  WAXAHACHIE...

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Snowstorm of threes lead Lions to 95-62 win

Nov 06, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

All ten players score, seven drain treys in SAGU debut Point Parade: Gentry 21, Mills 17, O'Neill 15, Feemster 13 WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  After a near-packed Sheaffer Center cr...

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Hoops season tips off to threat of snow

Hoops season tips off to threat of snow

Nov 05, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

SAGU is ranked #5 in NAIA Coaches Poll Lions play host to Dallas Christian on Tuesday night LiveStats link:   http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Webcasts.aspx?association=10 ...

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SAGU men's basketball roster announced

SAGU men's basketball roster announced

Nov 03, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Three starters will return, along with a deep cast Lions open the season at home on Tuesday at 8:00pm WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  In his first year as Head Coach at Southwestern Assemb...

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Men's Basketball adds two games

Men's Basketball adds two games

Oct 23, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Lions to play home/away against Ecclesia College SAGU schedule now complete with 30 dates WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University men's baske...

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Lions announce 28-game hoops itinerary

Lions announce 28-game hoops itinerary

Oct 03, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

SAGU schedule has early national match-up Final roster decisions forthcoming; three starters return WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’...

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National runner-up Lions sign five

National runner-up Lions sign five

May 31, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Solid recruiting class; Bostwick expects to add more SAGU introduces Davis, Dixon, Gumwell, Mills, Mitchell WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Head Coach Donnie Bostwick wasted litt...

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Delivering service 3-points at a time

Delivering service 3-points at a time

May 07, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Senior Spotlight: Hoopster James "Truck" Ford A heart for God and a penchant for the trifecta WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Known for a tender heart and killer three-point s...

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View the "Journey to Greatness"

View the "Journey to Greatness"

May 01, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Video captures Lions championship season Highlights of big plays and big dunks in big games  WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The recently produced video that chronicles the hi...

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Hall of Fame to post Rambo photo

Hall of Fame to post Rambo photo

Apr 18, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Coach Bostwick named NABC President WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The memories from the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s basketball team’s run to the national championship ...

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Rambo named NAIA Co-Player of the Year

Rambo named NAIA Co-Player of the Year

Apr 11, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

Waxahachie, Texas — April 11, 2013 — The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division I Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Association All-America Committee announced Southwestern As...

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Freshman of the Year: Emmanuel Adoyi

Freshman of the Year: Emmanuel Adoyi

Apr 10, 2013 - Men's Basketball News

RRAC also selects All-Tourney Team Rambo, Walter, Nwelue make the post-season grade WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  During the recent Red River Athletic Conference tournament in Waxahac...

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