Pedal to the Metal: Saints Top Lions 116-99
SAGU Needs Help to Make RRAC Tourney
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The high-octane offense of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men's basketball team were firing on all cylinders on Monday night. Unfortunately, their opponents were flying a jet engine with rocket fuel-injected boosters.
The end result was a brake-less array of high scorers that ended with Our Lady of the Lake University defeating the Lions with a 116-99 verdict. The Saints have eclipsed the century mark six times, not counting twice during exhibition contests. They average 88 points per game, topping the 90-point barrier on 12 different occasions. The look fast standing still!
The Saints, now 17-10 overall and 13-7 in games against the Red River Athletic Conference, have also had a number of games where they were well-defended or were simply cold. In eight games they failed to reach 80 points, including five times where the Saints couldn't get past 70.
For the Lions, that's hard to fathom. Since OLLU joined the RRAC a year ago, they have watched them pour in over 100 in three of their four meetings, all setbacks; 104-95, 112-107, 97-73 and 116-99.
Assessing the Odds of Post-Season Life
Desperate to put an end to their free fall of late (SAGU has dropped 7-of-8), the Lions chances of qualifying for the RRAC tournament are very slim. Now 8-18 in all games and 6-14 in league action, Southwestern is in ninth place, two games behind the University of the Southwest (13-14, 8-12), whom they swept during the season.
Only the top eight teams gain entry into the post-season tourney. Also battling to stay alive is Bacone College (10-16, 5-14). The Warriors have three home games remaining.
Jarvis Christian (11-16, 8-10) is also a possible team the Lions could catch. They have to play four more games this week, with a pair of make-ups due to the recent winter postponements. Should the Bulldogs lose all four and the Lions win their final two, they would finish in a tie. SAGU owns the tie-breaker, having outscored JCC by two points while splitting with the Dawgs.
Jarvis is at Langston on Wednesday night and Bacone on Thursday at 7:30pm and 6:30pm respectively. They wrap up their season with a pair of home duals against Texas Wesleyan on Feb. 26 and Southwest on Feb. 28.
Southwest can clinch a berth with one win in their two final games, both on the road. The Mustangs are at Texas College (17-9, 16-4) on Saturday, February 26, at 4:00pm. They finish against Jarvis Christian on Monday, Feb. 28, at 7:30pm.
On Deck for SAGU
The Purple Pride have their backs to the wall and must win their final two games – both on the road, and have Southwest, Jarvis and Bacone cooperate. SAGU's fate is no longer in their own hands. Adding to the degree of difficulty is their 1-9 record on the road, including 1-8 against teams from the RRAC.
SAGU plays at Langston University (2-22, 2-17) on Saturday, February 26, then are at Muskogee, Oklahoma on Monday, Feb. 28. There they will take on Bacone. The entire season could come down to that game. The Lions whipped Langston (76-66) and Bacone (100-92) at home.
Monday's Difference Makers
The Saints dominated the boards on Monday, having a lion's share of the caroms, 53-35. They wiped the glass clean, grabbing a 20-9 advantage in offensive rebounds. The other area that gave them a sizeable edge was in perimeter shooting. SAGU made 7-of-24 beyond the arc (29%), compared to the Halos 14-of-38 (37%).
Add to that their efficiency from the charity stripe, where they hit on 26-of-35 (75%). The Lions, who benefitted from officials calling 32 fouls against the hosts, compared to 25 cited against SAGU, failed to capitalize, making just 24-of-40 (60%). The #8 ranked team in the country in free throw shooting (74%) missed 10 foul shots on Saturday in a 92-89 loss at Huston-Tillotson.
Lost in the defeat was the offense connecting on 50% of their 68 shots. OLLU stroked 38-of-80 shots (47%), helping them score enough to outlast the Lions.
The Saints took the lead for good, 11-10, on a three-ball by Ricardo Zanini. They seized control by adding triples by LoRon Smith, Alex Tomic and Robert Martinez during a 19-3 run for a 27-13 upper-hand. They extended it to a 15-point lead on five occasions in the first half. It was 52-40 at intermission.
SAGU had a 5-2 lead on a Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / West Plano HS) trey; then went on top 8-6 when Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ of North Texas, Waco HS) dialed up a '3.' Their final lead came at 10-8 when Horne's younger brother, Da'Tron Harris (Waco, Tx / Waco HS) popped a pair of FT's.
The Blue Halos had the hot hand in the early stages of the second frame. Martinez triggered back-to-back jacks from beyond the arc, and OLLU made the first 10 free throws awarded after the break to build a 68-49 scoreboard bulge. A technical foul on Horne, his first on the season, seemed to signal a change in momentum and calls.
They Went to Jared!
Over the next six minutes the Lions erupted during a 22-10 surge. Harris was distributing the ball very well during this key juncture. He assisted a Gibson trifecta to jumpstart the comeback. Gibson converted a three-point play, as did Ryan Russell (Justin, Tx / Northwest HS), a 6'4 combo guard. Harris dished a dime to Ward inside, and Horne scored in the lane, slicing the 19-point deficit to 70-62 with 12:07 to go.
Eddie Ortiz delivered an old-fashioned three-point effort, and then drained a 3-ball, which was sandwiched by treys off the hands of Gibson and Horne. Southwestern had reduced their debt to seven, 78-71 with plenty of time on the clock (10:33). They would get no closer.
Our Lady recoiled and answered with a run of their own. Sherman Howard and Martinez tallied scores and, after Nathaniel Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Connally HS) cashed in a pair from the solo stripe, Johnathan Harris and Marco Cooper delivered baskets for an 86-73 margin. Arthur Govan wristed the "and one" after he powered in a shot to help push the Saints advantage to 90-75.
They pulled away from there. Govan continued his solid play with a trey, a short jumper and another score, and Martinez launched another triple to extend the lead to 104-83.
Down the stretch the Lions relied on Ward and Russell on the inside. But it wasn't enough as the Saints simply had too much firepower.
Horne led all scorers with 34 points. He was good on 11-of-20 shots, adding five threes and six boards. Gibson and Ward each poured in 18 apiece. Gibby had three assists and a pair of treys while Duce made 7-of-10 shots and was credited with eight boards.
Russell had his best game of the season with 17 points. He connected the dots on 6-of-9 field goal attempts and led the team with 10 boards. Nnamdi Agbaroji (Houston, Tx / Westbury HS) came off the bench to add eight points while Harris scored four and paced the club with a season-best five assists.
Martinez was high man for the Lakers with 24. He was 6-of-13 in all shots, including 4-of-9 threes. He failed to miss in eight tosses from the foul line. Govan added 20, while Cooper netted 18 points and eight boards, Aleksander Tomic 13, Ortiz nine points on three triples, and Zanini reeled in 10 boards and scored nine points. Curtis Bowens, Jr. contributed seven caroms and five assists.