Grit and heart propel Lions over Stars, 68-63
Bostwick calls defensive standoff his favorite game
SAGU hosts John Brown (12-3) in Thursday night biggie
Box Score and Standings links below
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- They may have misfired but the engine never sputtered.
No. 2 ranked Southwestern Assemblies of God University refused to surrender to an Oklahoma City University team that was up to the task in a 68-63 victory on Monday night.
It was a classic defensive standoff in which it seemed the visitors were destined to outlast the surrounded hosts. To make matters worse, the home team was practically out of ammunition and wouldn’t be rescued by the bench this time.
It was a white-knuckler, an edge-of-your-seat drama in which SAGU was dead tired; playing their sixth game in twelve days, and Head Coach Donnie Bostwick refused to call a single time out.
In short, he trusted his team to figure it out, to find a way. And, like TV’s MacGyver, they did just that, building an airplane out of duct tape and a paper clip.
The Lions, now 13-1 overall and 6-0 in the Sooner Athletic Conference. Making only 31% of their shots, which included a 4-of-31 beyond the arc, they discovered old school grit would get the job done.
SAGU took a lead at 19-17 when a Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS ) layup was the result of steal by Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Chr-Addison, Ranger College ). They would not trail again.
The well-coached Stars, whose M.O. is a tenacious defense, clawed like badgers until the final horn.
SAGU established their largest lead at 37-27 with over fifteen minutes remaining. Terry Johnson then fueled a 13-5 run to get back in the game after he sank a pair of free throws. It was 42-40 with 9:50 to go.
Twice in the second half they cut the deficit to one point before finally scoring the equalizer at 49 on a Dema Sane (dim-AH sin-AY) free throw with 6:07 to play.
Feemster, a 6-foot-6 junior forward, said at that point the team dug in their heels and fought with their hearts.
“Down the stretch we decided we weren't going to get beat,” he stated after the game. “We made stops when we needed to. We hit shots when we needed too.”
“It came down to who wanted it more, and as a whole, we want it a lot. The Lions are a hard team to outwork.”
An old Southern expression sums it up well: "They are eat-up with ‘want to.’"
OCU Head Coach Dionne Phelps said similarly.
“They came up all of the 50/50 balls, the offensive rebounds. They play with desire and were very tough down the stretch.”
His recognition of the Lions is because his team plays much the same way.
Tied at 49, SAGU regained the lead by scoring the next two baskets. Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Trinity Chr CH, Ok Wesleyan Univ ) swiped the ball near midcourt and dashed to cash it in.
Walter, who seemed omni-present, scored inside following a Rambo pass. The lead was 53-49 at the 3:49 mark.
Three times the Stars came to within two (53-51, 56-54 and 63-61) points, but the Lions replied with Walter – thanks to another Rambo assist, a layup by Rambo and two free throws by Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Hondo HS, Ok Wesleyan Univ ).
Two costly missed shots and two costlier turnovers in the last minutes forced the Stars to foul in order to get the ball back. Rambo, Gentry and Feemster finished it off.
“It was my favorite victory of the season thus far, because we found a way on a night when we couldn't throw it in the ocean,” said Donnie Bostwick, the Lions’ third year coach.
“We were consistent,” he added, tongue in cheek. “We shot 30 percent overall and 12% of our 3’s in both halves. But any basketball junkie appreciates these kind of wins.”
He mentioned that 21 is a multiple of God’s number (7). “We had 21 offensive rebounds, forced 21 turnovers and 21 came up big all night,” he added in reference to Walter’s jersey number.
“I’m very proud of the presence that showed through our team on the floor. Missing shots did not bring frustration or division,” Bostwick continued.
“Give OCU's defense credit. They have a great team. I think they are as good as anyone in the country. Their only losses are on the road to 14-1 St. Greg's, Southwestern Christian and two good NCAA D2 programs.”
“We need to catch our breath the next two days then do our best to finish off this home stand. We have an upcoming 5-game road stretch.”
Thursday clash vs. nationally ranked John Brown
SAGU will be at home on Thursday to host John Brown University (12-3 record) at 8:00pm. It will be the last home date until February 8.
The game will be broadcast in HD by SAGU Sports Live. Fans can also follow on a LiveStats webcast.
Rambo led the Lions with 18 points. He also grabbed six rebounds, and collected four assists and made three steals.
Walter and Feemster each had 14 points. The former ripped down a game-high nine rebounds while the latter swished three of eight from outside the arc.
Gentry added 11 points and four steals. Emmanuel Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / LR Parkview HS ), limited by early foul trouble, finished with six boards and six points.
Overall, the Lions held a 43-42 edge in rebounds, committed 12 turnovers while coaxing 21.
The Stars outshot SAGU, 41% to 31%. However, the Lions fired 15 more shots (70 to 55), a figure that reveals the fruit of offensive rebounds and opponents’ turnovers.
SAGU was 20-of-29 on the foul line to OCU’s 10-of-19. The Lions gained the edge there in the closing minutes.
The Stars placed three in double figures, paced by Jamaal Crayton’s 13.
OCU had a 13-4 lead at 10:45 in the first half after held the Lions to a frostbite-like 1-for-16 start.
SAGU came out of hibernation when Walter and Rambo converted two baskets apiece in an 11-0 run to lead, 15-13. They made it look easy, a word that was never uttered again.
According to Feemster
Feemster gave credit to his team’s frigid shooting.
“OKC did a great job of forcing tough shots. That’s why we did not shoot the ball very well tonight.”
“Our team is very confident in close games,” he explained. “It comes down to who wants it more. We always know that when our shots aren’t falling that we can rely on our defense to create opportunities for us to score.”
“These last six games have been huge for us,” he summarized. “We are playing unselfish basketball.”
“Coach Bostwick has stressed making the "extra pass" a lot the last few games and we have been doing it well. People are creating and getting open shots for themselves and for their teammates.”
“I've never had more fun playing than with this group of guys.”
Box Score: http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/BoxScores/BoxScores.aspx?association=10&sg=MBB&sea=NAIMBB_2013&team=440&compID=169881 (Click on the split blue box in the right corner to read the play-by-play)