Hoops Home Finale Tonight
Senior Nnamdi Agbaroji, Lions take on St. Thomas
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The regular season is less than two weeks from its conclusion for Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Tonight, however, will be the Lions' home finale as they host the University of St. Thomas.
It will be a solo game as UST doesn't currently have a women's basketball program. It is slated for a 7:30pm (CST) opening tip. Southwestern will bring an 8-15 record while St. Thomas is toting an 11-10 mark.
Prior to the start of the non-conference contest will be a brief ceremony to honor SAGU's lone senior player, Nnamdi Agbaroji (Houston, Tx / Westbury HS), a 6'5 forward.
The game will be broadcast by SAGU SPORTS Live and is accessible through the university's website. The high definition livestream can be viewed on computers and iPhones by visiting www.sagu.edu and then clicking on SAGU TV. The pregame show airs at 7:15pm.
St. Thomas and Southwestern offer contrasting styles. The Celts (pronounced with a K) play a more controlled game, averaging 65 points (#105 of 115 NAIA teams) per outing. The red-clad bucketeers make 6.4 three-pointers while holding opponents to 28% shooting beyond the arc. UST makes 67% of their free throws. Overall, their shoots hit .407 from the floor, including .303 from downtown.
Meanwhile SAGU scores at a 77 ppg clip while knocking down 8.1 triples per game (#13). The Lions lead the Red River Athletic Conference in free throw percentage, converting over 73% of their foul shots, which is #7 nationally. Southwestern's combined field goal accuracy is just .415 (#97), though the squad's .373 touch beyond the arc is #16 in the NAIA.
The Celts own a decisive advantage on the defensive side of the court. By yielding just 63 points to the opposition, UST has the #9 ranked defense in the nation. On the boards they grab as many as they surrender, at 36 per caroms per game, which ranks #75 of the NAIA's 115 teams.
The Lions defense allows 84 ppg, which is #109 in the country. Part of the reason is rebounding, where SAGU clutches 38 per game while permitting foes to lay claim to 44. The negative rebound margin ranks #105, which explains the point differential.
Another statistical edge the Celts have the advantage is turnovers, where UST takes much better care of the ball. They cough up possession of the ball 15.2 times per game while forcing 17.1, an overall NAIA ranking of #34. At the moment, SAGU loses the possession 19.5 times while squeezing the sphere from rivals an average of 16.0 times a game. That ranks #102.
The First Meeting on November 2
St. Thomas defeated SAGU, 71-56, in the season opener for both teams on November 2. They flew out of the gate for a 36-20 lead at the half by shutting down the Lions three starting guards. The trio hit only 5-of-28 shots as the Celts held SAGU to 36% shooting. UST, who shot 44% on their home floor, also had the advantage from the perimeter, with a 7-4 edge in threes.
The teams played twice a year ago as well, with SAGU winning at home, 66-48. St. Thomas returned the favor in H-Town, 67-59.
The Celts have won their last two games, 59-55 over the University of New Orleans, and 67-47 over the University of Dallas (2-17). SAGU held off Jarvis Christian, 85-77, on Monday night in the Sheaffer Center. UST split with Jarvis this season, while going 5-4 against teams from the RRAC. Their signature wins came over Our Lady of the Lake (15-10) and Texas Wesleyan (23-2).
After Tonight, SAGU hits the Road
The Purple Pride will hit the road for their final four RRAC games. They begin this Saturday when they clash with Huston-Tillotson (1-25) at 6:00pm. SAGU is tied for eighth place in the conference, and will battle several other teams for a berth in the RRAC post-season tourney. Only the top eight teams earn a bid to the single-elimination event, March 3-5, here in Waxahachie.