Ferocious D: Lions Hold Off Jarvis, 85-77
SAGU fights for berth in RRAC tourney
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Behind the passionate play of their defensive unit, Southwestern Assemblies of God University downed Jarvis Christian College, 85-77, on Monday night in the Sheaffer Center.
Battling ferociously were two teams bound in a tight race to qualify for the Red River Athletic Conference tournament. Only the top eight schools receive a bid in the post-season event. The host Lions, in ninth place before the game, were raring and ready during their final conference home game.
Southwestern moved into a tie for eighth with the win, which improved their overall record to 8-15 and their league mark to 6-12. Jarvis (10-15, 7-9 RRAC), who is in seventh place, lost their third straight game.
Two other teams are fighting for the same prize. University of the Southwest (11-14, 6-12) lost to Wiley College, 87-73, while Bacone College (10-13, 5-11), an 80-70 winner over Huston-Tillotson, are in a virtual tie with the Lions with two weeks left to play.
Coach Jerry Boone's team displayed a fierce defense in the second half, outrebounding the Bulldogs by a 22-13 count. They held Jarvis to 29% shooting and blocked three shots. The Lions aggressive play was cited for 16 fouls after intermission, allowing the Dogs to stay in the game by hitting 19-of-25 free throws in the final twenty minutes.
After scoring the final five points of the first half for a 41-36 lead at the break, the Lions went up by sixteen, 54-38, with 15:31 left in the game. From there they staved off a frantic comeback by Jarvis. A late, 11-4 run drew the Bulldogs to within 79-77 on an Anthony Crump three-pointer with 1:29 remaining.
Southwestern clinched the win by scoring the final six points on a pair of free throws by Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ of North Texas, Waco HS), a fastbreak layup from Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / West Plano HS), and a breakway slam by Peter Dutton (Houston, Tx / Booker T. Washington HS). The Bulldogs missed their last three shots, all from beyond the arc.
First Half Revisited
The first twenty minutes saw the lead change hands three times and the score was tied on four occasions.
Then they Went to Jared!
The Lions rallied from an 0-4 hole to go up 17-9 on five straight three-balls: Gibson, Dutton, Gibson, Gibson and Dutton on three assists from Horne. Two of Gibson treys were from the Twilight Zone. They came in a time span of 3:17.
Horne stroked one from downtown and Gabriel Clark (Modesto, Ca / Modesto HS) scored on a lay-in to give SAGU their largest lead of the half at 22-11 with 11:08 to go.
In the Spirit of Emeril Lagasse
Jarvis kicked their game up a notch and used the same recipe, the three-pointer. Junior forward Gerneal White fired one, followed by Sage Malone, a sophomore guard. He came off the bench and drained back-to-back jacks on helpers from Marcus O'Key and Ronald Durst. Sage's second triple leveled the scoreboard at 33, capping their own 22-11 run.
The Lions snapped a 36-all tie on a bucket inside by Nathaniel Duce Ward (Waco, Tx / Connally HS). Then, after a White turnover, Horne launched a 26-foot trifecta at the buzzer for a 41-36 lead.
Gibson was 4-of-6 in treys at the break to lead all scorers with 12. SAGU hit 48% of their shots. Jarvis, with four players netting six points apiece, made 45% of their tries. They were driven by a 20-12 edge on the boards.
Second Half Rewind
In the first five minutes after recess the Lions threatened to break the game wide open. A turnaround jumper by Clark, who has averaged 10 rebounds and four blocked shots per game since transferring over the holidays, was followed by a basket and a trifecta off the hands of Horne for a 48-36 edge.
Horne converted a pair of free throws on a technical foul and filled it up from downtown as SAGU grabbed a 54-38 advantage at 15:31.
Momentum, like a pendulum, swung back to the Blue Barkers just as Southwestern went for the knockout punch.
Horne missed a dunk, and then Dutton's inbounds lob to Ward went awry. A technical foul against the Lions only seemed to fuel the Bulldogs. Over the next 1:32 they drew to within 54-45 on a three by Brian Lockett. Another Horne trey pushed the Lions back up by 13, 60-47, at 11:42.
The Bulldogs countered with an effective press that began to milk turnovers and, coupled with a rash of fouls against the Lions on the interior, sparked a frenetic rally. Eight consecutive foul shots by O'Key, Val Rogatkin – a native of Kazakhstan, and four by Durst cut their debt to 67-63 at the 7:07 mark, finishing a 25-13 run.
SAGU lost both Ward and Clark, their top rebounders, to fouls. Coach Boone inserted Nnamdi Agbaroji (Houston, Tx / Westbury HS), who has been providing solid minutes of late. In eleven minutes down the stretch he contributed five of his nine points and four of his five boards to give the Lions an inside presence.
"He saved us when we really needed some help," said Horne, who selected the Chicken Express Player of the Game by the SAGU SPORTS Live crew. "Dee's rebounding and shooting were big. He's my vote for the Player of the Game. You should've chosen him."
Agbaroji (AGG-bar-O-jee) swished two from the solo stripe to extend the Jungle Kings' lead to nine, 75-66 (4:10).
O'Key, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, kept the Dogs within sniffing distance with two free throws and a three point play, 77-74 (2:28).
A Blast of the Horne!
Lockett fouled Horne in the backcourt, a needless move that proved costly. An 87% shooter, the 6'2 junior guard is unflappable at the foul line. He wristed both to go up five with 2:26 left.
The clubs swapped turnovers, with Lockett getting fouled in the process. But the 74% marksman was off the mark twice at the two minute warning. Another Lions giveaway led to a 3-bomb in the right corner by Crump, thanks to a dime from Lockett. Once a 16-point mountain, it had been whittled down to 79-77 with 1:29 showing on the Sheaffer walls.
Three seconds later the Bulldogs double-teamed Horne in the backcourt and fouled him again. Again he converted twice, giving him 12-of-13 on the night.
Jarvis missed their final three attempts at triples by Durst, Crump and Lockett, which turned into clinching SAGU field goals and a much needed victory.
Team and Player Totes
Southwestern was good on 58% of their shots in the second half and owned their share of the glass, 22-13. They needed every bit of it to overcome 18 turnovers in the second half and 19-of-25 foul shots by JCC.
Horne overcame a slow start to finish with 30 points. He made five out of nine attempts and all nine free throws. The league's most prolific scorer (22.7 ppg) is second in the country, trailing only Ricky Berry (24.3 ppg) of Simon Fraser University (British Columbia).
Horne has surpassed 20 points thirteen times in twenty-three games, the fifth time he poured in 30 or more. He has reached double-figures in all 23 games this season and in 27 straight dating back to last season. He was in double-digits in 25 of 34 games as a sophomore.
Gibson bagged 19 points as he ripped the nets on 5-of-8 outside the arc. Ward accounted for 10 points and six rebounds before fouling out. He retains his lead in both the RRAC as well as the NAIA, grabbing 12.1 caroms per game. He ripped down double-figures in boards in the first 14 games of the season and 15 of the twenty games he has played.
Agbaroji scored 9; Dutton had 8 while Clark registered 5 points, seven boards and three blocks before being disqualified on fouls after only 15 minutes. Grigsby netted four points.
O'Key led the Bulldogs paced the Bulldogs with 16 points. Durst had 11, Lockett and Maurese Jackson each totaled 10.
Home Finale on Thursday vs St. Thomas: Senior Night
The Lions have one home game left on their season slate. They return to the court on Thursday, February 17, when University of St. Thomas visits the FLC. There is no women's game as UST doesn't currently field a ladies basketball program. There will be a brief ceremony to recognize the two academic seniors on the club.
The Celts (pronounced Kelts), located in downtown Houston, are currently 11-10 and own a 4-3 record against RRAC teams, including a 71-56 win over SAGU back on November 2.
Southwestern will conclude the regular season with four away games. They will determine whether the Lions will have a post-season.
On the Road
SAGU plays in Austin against Huston-Tillotson (1-25, 1-16) on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 6:00pm. Next Monday, Feb. 21, they visit Our Lady of the Lake (15-10, 11-7) in San Antonio. The game tips off at 7:30pm and will be available via OLLU's livestream. Directions will be posted here or you can access it on their website.
The following weekend will be north of the Red River. Saturday, Feb. 26, Southwestern will be in Langston, Oklahoma to play the Langston Lions (2-20, 2-15) at 7:30pm. The regular season ends on Monday, Feb. 28, in Muskogee, Ok against Bacone College (10-13, 5-11). The tip-off is set for 7:30pm.
Red River Athletic Conference – Current Standings
|TEAM||RRAC RECORD||WIN PCT||OVERALL RECORD||OVERALL WIN PCT||GB||STREAK|
|Texas Wesleyan||16-1||.941||23-2||.920||--||Won 10|
|Texas College||14-3||.824||15-8||.652||2.0||Won 6|
|Paul Quinn College||11-7||.611||16-10||.615||5.5||Lost 1|
|Our Lady of the Lake||11-7||.611||15-10||.600||5.5||Won 2|
|Wiley College||9-9||.500||13-13||.500||7.5||Won 1|
|Jarvis Christian||7-9||.438||10-15||.400||8.5||Lost 3|
|Univ of the Southwest||6-12||.333||11-14||.440||10.5||Lost 2|
|Bacone College||5-11||.313||10-13||.435||10.5||Won 1|
|Langston University||2-15||.118||2-20||.091||14.0||Lost 5|
Key - GB: Games Behind the first place team's record in the RRAC
Streak: Current number of games won or lost in a row