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SAGU hands MACU first conference defeat

Rambo, Feemster combine for 52 pts, defense forces 23 turnovers

rambo-roar-vs-macuPhoto Gallery, Box Score, Standings (links below)

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  In the traditional confrontation of offense versus defense, No. 3 ranked Southwestern Assemblies of God University stymied No. 30 Mid-America Christian University, 82-77, Saturday evening at the Sheaffer Center.

What the game lacked in offensive efficiency it more than made up for in defensive intensity. Building a 77-66 lead with 1:52 remaining, the Lions were holding the nation’s third-best offense 33 points under their average of 99.

SAGU enhanced their overall record to 9-1. At 2-0 in league games, they are the only unbeaten team left in the Sooner Athletic Conference.

MACU slipped to 7-3 and 3-1 in the SAC.

“Mid-America has a really good team,” acknowledged Lions Head Coach, Donnie Bostwick. “They play a very similar style to us. We really had to weather the storm to take that one.”

Like the Chinese paradox of the piercing spear (MACU) against the impenetrable shield (SAGU), the two teams battled to establish the pace of the game.

The Lions work ethic on defense had its hands full with the tall, athletic and angular Evangels.

Bringing their helmet, lunch-pail, boots and, oh, yes, their shield, the hosts forced their red-cladded foes into a season high 23 turnovers, ten more than SAGU committed.

In their ten games (20 halves), only three times have the Evangels been restricted under 40 points in a half. The Lions curbed them in two of them, 38 and 39, in Saturday’s halves.

MACU countered with 16 offensive rebounds – besting SAGU at their own “crashing the glass” M.O.  It enabled them to take 64 shots.

“They got us on the offensive boards,” acknowledged Bostwick. “Plus, they shot the three very well.” The Evangels sank 11 from beyond the arc.

“It's hard to say we did a great job on them defensively when they shot 44 percent,” he added. “But we held them 22 points below their season average and forced them into 23 turnovers.”

“Offensively we struggled from behind the 3-point line again but we hit our free throws.”

They may have ‘struggled’ in their long-distance percentage, although Team Purp did connect on 10 trifectas.

As for the charity stripe, the Lions knocked down 16 of 21 to keep MACU at bay. The Evangels were 10 of 19.

“Our defense stepped up in the second half and helped us build a 12 point lead,” he said, praising his team’s resisting zealots.

“That was the difference in the game.”

After the Evangels used three second-chance buckets to lead 13-6 out of the gate, the game turned into an engaging duel. It was tied six times and on seven occasions the lead changed hands.

For all of their scoring theatrics, senior guards Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Trinity Chr CH, Ok Wesleyan Univ ), Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Hondo HS, Ok Wesleyan Univ ) and junior Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS ) earn their keep on defense.

After a jumper by Daniel Mills (Belton, Tx / Belton HS ), Rambo swiped the ball and dashed downcourt to knot the score at 15. He finished the game with seven steals, a stat he led the NAIA in a year ago.

Threes by Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Chr-Addison, Ranger College ) and Andre Crear (Ft. Worth, Tx / Trimble Tech HS, Angelina College ) pushed SAGU on top by four at 23-19.

MACU was relentless. Jarius Wilson countered with a trey to lift the visitors to a 30-26 lead. Semar (seh-MAR) Farris added a basket to stretch their lead to 35-29 with 3:15 to go in the half.

The Lions replied by turning up the heat prior to recess.

They forced three turnovers and allowed 1-of-4 shooting in outscoring MACU 10-3 to take a 39-38 into the locker room on a Mills putback.

A 3-ball by Gentry, another rob-job by Rambo set up a Walter lay-in. Rambo then split two players on a drive (see photo), scoring on a scoop shot. He was fouled and netted the and-one prior to a late Mills stickback.

Mid-America, off to their best-ever start in the Sooner, once again came out hot.

A Reggie Davis trey and a layup by Farris gave them a 53-49 lead at the twelve-minute mark.

Then the Jungle Kings sprung a brief fullcourt press on the Evangels. It resulted in a couple of miscues, immediately cashed in for scores.

When it was called off the man-to-man defense took it from there. Especially Walter. Three times he tipped the ball away where Rambo laid claim to it.

Each time he launched a scoring assault; a Feemster three-ball, a three-point play by Rambo, then a Rambo theft he parlayed into a breakaway layup for a 56-53 lead.

Walter converted an offensive carom and Rambo turned a swipe into an easy deuce for a 60-55 upper hand with 9:04 left.

Feemster continued to show why he must never be allowed to roam alone. He stroked two foul shots before ripping the nets from the corner to maintain the lead at 67-59.

Walter grabbed a defensive rebound, got the outlet pass to Rambo, and then jetted the length of the court. At the low block he was on the receiving end of a Rambo dime – a long-distance give-and-go.

He also made a steal and connected with Rambo, whose pull-up trey extended the lead to 77-66 with 1:52 on the clock.

MACU drained two never-say-die threes to make it closer.

“I think what turned our defense around was that early three (drew the Lions to within 13-11) from Rambo,” Walter said after the game. “It gave us a little more pep.”

“Later we started to press and get more aggressive. Coach really got onto us about rebounding. When it came down to the last five minutes we knew we had to come together and board."

"That's what we did," he summarized. "We got it done.”

Two days after scoring 40 against Oklahoma Baptist University, Rambo turned in a pair of 16-point halves for a 32-point night. His seven steals was not a career high. He had nine in a game as a junior after a 10 theft effort as a sophomore.

Sporting Santa socks, he was also in the giving spirit. He registered seven assists. Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian ), his back-up, was credited with four helpers.

Feemster, whose 15.7 points per game average leads the Purple Pride, totaled 20 points. He has poured in 18 or more five times this season.

The 6’6 junior forward has a 41% success rate on his tries from outside the arc. His 2.9 threes per game average ranks 13th in the NAIA.

Lewis led MACU with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Davis scored 18 and Farris contributed 15.

“Our goal is to continue to grow as a team and learn from our mistakes,” Bostwick added.

“We head back on the road Monday into another tough environment. We’ve got to enjoy this win tonight,” he explained, “then catch our breath, glorify God at church tomorrow and get back to action.”

Since the campus is still empty for the semester break, he thanked all of the fans who attended the game.

On the road again on Monday

Next for the Lions is a date in Bethany, Oklahoma at 8:00pm on Monday. They will face Southwestern Christian University (5-4 overall / 1-1 in SAC) at the Pickens Springer Gym.

SAGU plays at 8:00pm in Ft. Worth on Thursday, January 9, against Texas Wesleyan University (7-5 / 1-2 in SAC). The Rams stunned John Brown University, 99-91, in overtime, on Saturday.

The Lions return home next Saturday when the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma visits Waxahachie for a 5:00pm tipoff.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at or at 469-658-2847.

Box Score:  (Click on the split blue box in the upper right corner for the game's play-by-play)


Photo Gallery  (100+ pictures from the Lady Lions game, over 200 of the Lions game):