Second half surge overcomes OBU, 69-61
Rambo overcomes kryptonite with big plays
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WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- No. 5 ranked Southwestern Assemblies of God University overcame a staunch defensive effort by Oklahoma Baptist University for a come-from-behind 69-61 triumph on Thursday night at the Sheaffer Center.
The Lions (21-3 / 13-2 in SAC) took the lead for good when senior guard Caleb Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Hondo HS, Ok Wesleyan Univ ) nailed a three-point basket from the right wing with 7:32 remaining. He took a crisp pass from junior point guard Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian ) and ripped the nets for a 58-55 lead the team refused to renounce.
A perennial national power, OBU began the season ranked No. 2 in the NAIA. Their rebuilt starting line-up took a major hit when Mo Woods, their top scorer, was lost for the season during a narrow loss at St. Gregory’s on January 23. The Bison have endured an uncharacteristic campaign that has included a handful of close defeats.
Inspired to simmer down the Sooner Athletic Conference newcomer, SAGU, the Bison were well-prepared with a defensive stratagem that handcuffed the Lions throughout.
Head Coach Doug Tolin’s squad, who were torched for 40 points by Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Trinity Chr CH, Ok Wesleyan Univ ) on January 2, had kryptonite in plentiful supply.
In a first half the green-clad Bison use a 15-3 run to build a 22-11 lead with 6:58 remaining. The margin eventually reached 13 at 34-21.
At the half the Lions were in arrears, 36-27, and Rambo had managed just two shot attempts and one point. OBU was making 52% of their shots and ‘Bo had drawn three personal fouls.
Meanwhile, the Lions had only one player picking up the slack.
OBU’s defensive tactics were so effective that SAGU made good on just 8-of-30 shots (26%). The Lions also missed eight free throws by recess.
What kept Team Purple in the game was limiting their turnovers to two and Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS ). The 6’4 junior scored 11 to keep the Herd within sight on the horizon.
The second half was a complete juxtaposition. Especially for Rambo.
SAGU’s defense upped their ante with a tenacious, ball-hawking display. Not to be outdone, the Bison refused to come undone.
It made for a classic defensive stalemate.
Rambo, as his M.O. often dictates, flipped on the denial switch. At No. 2 in the NAIA in thefts, he jump-started his mojo with defensive pressure.
He stole the ball from Aaron Abram and went the distance for a deuce to start the second half. Grabbing a defensive rebound, he ignited the team with a coast-to-coast jail-break before dishing to Walter, who lateraled to Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Chr-Addison, Ranger College ). His finished with a lay-in.
Who let the Lions out?
Next, Rambo outran the OBU defense by knifing inside for a bucket. His pump now primed, he unsheathed the heavy artillery.
His senior backcourt part partner, Gentry laid claim to an offensive board. He zipped the Rock to Walter, who dished to Rambo. He ripped the nets for a three-ball and SAGU was within 40-36.
The incumbent National Player of the Year wasn’t through.
He drained another triple on his next shot, then, after taking a pass in the corner from Guidry, triggered a high, rainbow trifecta to go up 42-40 with 14:37 to play.
Rambo had 13 points in five minutes and the joint was jumping. For the Cats’ catalyst, it's not how many points he scores, it is when.
His teammates followed suit.
The Bison, however, never relented. They were intent on winning and played like it.
A Cale Jackson three-ball gave them the lead back, 45-42, and a trey from the right wing from Tyler Davis kept them on top at 51-49 midway through the second half.
Power baskets by Abram knotted the score at 53 and 55. The Bison appeared to have enough to outlast the Lions.
That set the stage for Gentry. His trifecta pushed Team Purp on top to stay.
Each possession became a high intensity platform with both teams wrestling for an open shot.
OBU missed their next seven shots and were pressured into three turnovers. Simultaneously, SAGU went 0-for-4 and lost the ball thrice on miscues.
The Bison got the next basket on a putback by Davis at the 2:55 mark. Following four minutes of shutdown defense, the Bison were within 59-57.
Toiling as the Lions best interior defender, Emmanuel Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / LR Parkview HS ), then rose to the occasion by hitting several money shots down the stretch.
A Rambo dime to the 6’5 sophomore was cashed in for a smoothly stroked triple to start a game clinching 7-0 run.
Walter swiped a pass, pitched the ball to Rambo, who assisted a backdoor layup by Adoyi (pronounced like ‘a TOY’). Ka-ching, SAGU led 64-57 at the 2:11 mark.
Misses by the Bison led to quick fouls.
Adoyi swished a pair and Gentry added one for a 66-57 margin with 0:55 showing on the Dr. Pepper scoreboard.
Abram netted an inside tally before Rambo closed the scoring when he pilfered a pass near the basket and laid-in a breakaway.
After leveling the score at 55, OBU ended the game by converting just three of their final 14 shots.
SAGU was true on 14-of-27 (52%) second half shots, while holding the opposition to 11-of-29 (38%). The Lions totaled 11 treys, including a 7-2 margin after halftime.
Making only 14 of 26 from the charity stripe hindered their cause, as did the Bison’s 43-39 edge on the glass. The Lions overcame those areas by forcing 16 turnovers and committing just eight themselves.
The outstanding effort by OBU was not lost on Donnie Bostwick, the Lions’ third year Head Coach.
“I first want to compliment OBU,” he said. “Coach Tolin and his staff are as good as it gets and he had his team ready to play.”
“During the first half they were able to control the tempo and executed on both ends better than us.”
“I was very pleased to see us show the resilience and unity necessary to come back and win a physical battle like that,” he added. “Defensively we really made it hard on them the second half.”
Rambo led the Lions in scoring with 18 points. He also had four steals and four helpers.
“’Bo put us on his back to start the second half,” stated Bostwick. “He has a competitive fire that is uncommon.”
“When he picked up his 4th foul (midway through the second half), the team rallied and proved up to the challenge.”
The coach and spiritual mentor added a lesson that he often stresses to the team.
“Adversity both builds and displays character. We are always quoting James 1:2; “Consider adversity pure joy.” It was never more apparent than tonight.”
Adoyi netted 13 points and eight boards, while Walter concluded play with 13 as well. Gentry bagged an even 10 points.
Guidry’s play off the bench was critical. He totaled eight points.
Abram and Jackson paced the Bison with 18 and 16 points respectively. The latter was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
The Lions play Mid-America Christian University (14-7 / 10-5 in SAC) on Saturday, February 15. The contest will pit the Sooner Athletic Conference’s top two teams in the standings.
The Lions will have their hands full with the athletic and well-disciplined Evangels. SAGU took the first meeting, 82-77.
Upcoming two games; Sat. at MACU, Tues vs. Northwood
Fans can watch the game live on video livestream or follow a textual version of the game’s play-by-play via LiveStats.
Live Video: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/macu.portal
Live Stats: http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Webcasts.aspx?association=10
A full report of the game will be posted on-line later tonight.
SAGU returns home on Tuesday, February 18, when they host Northwood University.