Thursday hoops: Lady Lions, Lions curtain call
St. Gregory's visits for 6:00pm, 8:00pm home finale
Final home game for Winston, Roberts, Rambo and Gentry
Full house expected as fans give team post-season send-off
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Thursday night is the final home appearance in the basketball careers of several of Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s all-time best players and their current team.
Both the women’s and men’s teams will face St. Gregory’s University (Ok) inside the friendly confines of Sheaffer Center.
Two of the Lady Lions long-time standouts, Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Lakeview Centennial HS) and Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS), along with the Lions’ Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill, Ok Wesleyan Univ) and Caleb “Hondo” Gentry (Hondo, Tx / Hondo HS, Ok Wesleyan Univ), will suit up at home for the final time.
Their illustrious careers are coming to a close.
A full-house is expected, so early arrival is encouraged. Super fan Andrew Lawhon has a new cheer to introduce prior to tip-off.
The Lady Lions game begins at 6:00pm (CST), the Lions at 8:00pm. SAGU Sports Live will broadcast the games in HD video beginning with a pre-game show approximately fifteen minutes prior to the opening jump.
The Lady Lions are 13-15 overall and have a 7-11 mark against the opposition in the Sooner Athletic Conference. St. Greg’s Lady Cavaliers are 2-22 and 1-17 in league action.
The Cavs are on a 12-game losing skid. Four of their past six outings have seen improved play by the team.
SAGU won the first meeting Shawnee, 64-42, on January 18.
Neither team scares the opposition on offense. SAGU produces just 61 points per game, which ranks 10th in the SAC and 89th of 102 teams in the NAIA. The Cavs are slightly better at 63 ppg.
The difference is clear. The zone and trapping defense of the Lady Lions permits opponents to score 62 ppg, rating 22nd nationally. St. Greg’s surrenders 82 ppg, last in the conference.
SAGU should have an advantage on the boards as well as limiting the Lady Cavs shooters. Team Purple yields just a 35% success rate to enemy shooters while the Cavaliers are last in the SAC.
They tolerate their foes making 47% of their attempts. That is also last in the NAIA.
St. Gregory’s, a Catholic liberal arts university across town from Oklahoma Baptist University, has the edge in two key areas; free throws as well as from the perimeter.
They average over seven three-pointers per contest, third best in the SAC. SAGU makes five triples, which is seventh among the eleven teams in the conference.
Fans would be wise to watch a foursome of Cavalier guards who all average 10 points per game. Their leader is Stacy Lee, a 5’3 junior who calls Dallas her hometown.
A graduate from Plano West High School, she scores 12.3 ppg.
Tori Huff (11.4), Kylee Tatum (10.4) and Taylor Koelsch (10.0) support Lee in the backcourt.
SAGU’s Winston can help secure the scoring title in the conference in the final two games. She is scoring at an 18.7 ppg average. She leads Wayland Baptist University’s Angeleigh Davis (17.4) by 37 points.
She accounted for 22 points when the teams met a month ago. Winston has amassed 16 games in which she topped the 20-point plateau. Her career best was a 28-point effort at Paul Quinn College in November.
Perhaps the most anticipated moment will happen when Roberts blocks her first shot. Easily SAGU’s all-time leader in rejections, she has record 299 in her career.
The next one will be number 300, a rarity in college basketball. She has a narrow lead over OBU's Zbedya Aremi by a pair of blocks.
Roberts led the NAIA as a junior with 114, and had 98 as a sophomore.
The Lady Lions finish the regular season on Saturday afternoon at No. 16 John Brown University (21-6 record). The game starts at 1:00pm and will be available on livestream video at no charge.
SAGU will play in the first round of the next week’s conference tournament in Shawnee, Ok. They are sure to play on Wednesday, March 5. If the season ended today, SAGU would open against Northwood University.
The tournament schedule will be announced on Sunday, March 2.
Unless they receive a bid to the NAIA tournament in Frankfort, Kentucky, the Lady Lions will compete in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Regional, March 11-15, in Bartlesville, Ok.
The No. 5 ranked Lions have already clinched the SAC regular season championship. Their 8:00pm clash with the No. 20 Cavaliers could be special.
SAGU hopes to close the regular season homestand with a solid performance in a pre-conference tournament tune-up.
St. Gregory’s is very talented and very tough in tight games. They are 9-4 when games are decided by nine-points or less. SAGU is 12-4 in similar settings.
Expect another one on Thursday.
The Swashbucklers of Head Coach John Martin are hungry and aggressive. They are the talk of the SAC this season, improving from 7-21 a year ago to 20-7 today.
There were 24 lead changes in the first meeting of SAGU and SGU. The score deadlocked on nine other occasions.
Trailing 70-69 with eight minutes remaining, the Lions rallied for a 91-83 triumph.
Jon Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS) had the hot hand with 29 points. Rambo tossed in 22 and was credited with eight steals.
St. Greg’s guard Marty Wilkerson bagged five triples en route to 23 points.
The Cavaliers have the upper hand on offense. They average 88 and are the best shooters in the league. They are true on 48% of their shots. That is 10th nationally.
SAGU is sixth in scoring at 83 ppg and tied for last in accuracy at 41%. Out of 99 teams in Division I, the Purple Pride are 88th with their shooting aim.
So how does a team that doesn’t set field goal percentage records win so often? Thanks for asking.
That’s what makes these Lions so entertaining!
SAGU plays defense and crashes the offensive glass as though fueled with Red Bull. The Lions allow 73 ppg, eleven less than St. Greg’s.
For comparison sake, the Pride are scoring six points more than last year’s squad (77) and allowing three more points (70).
SAGU benefits from solid work on the boards and by forcing 17 turnovers, second most in the SAC. Both the Lions and Cavs take exceptional care of the ball, averaging 13 miscues per outing.
Keep an eye on the scoreboard.
Two individuals will be battling to lead their team to victory while also contending for the conference scoring crown.
Wilkerson is in the catbird seat with a 21.2 ppg average. He has a razor thin edge over Everritt Pleasant (Northwood) and Markus Monroe (Wayland Baptist). They also average just over 21 per contest.
Wilkerson has netted 20+ in twenty of 27 games. He leads his team with 59 trifectas.
Lurking in the shadows is SAGU’s Rambo. His 23.2 ppg would lead, but he hasn’t played enough games to qualify. Individuals must appear in 75% of their team’s games. At 71%, he should soon surpass the minimum.
Wilkerson is not the only threat for Big Blue.
Fellow guard T.J. Thornton comes in on a roll. He has connected on 17 of his last 28 shots to pour in 27 and 26 points in wins over Oklahoma Baptist and Mid-America Christian University.
At 6-foot-2, he averages 17.6 ppg, passing twenty in nine games. Thornton and forward Jaron Vierra have swished 48 and 33 treys respectively.
Power forward Josiah Campbell, 6’5 and 210, could be a threat against the Lions. He averages a double-double with 10.3 ppg and 10.2 rebounds per game.
The career swan song at home for Rambo and Gentry will be worth the admission.
Rambo was honored at Monday’s game for becoming SAGU’s all-time scoring leader. He nudged past Doug Freer (2000-2004) with 1,854 points. Freer, who owns the team mark for career threes (249), had the previous record at 1,805.
The Lions have three other players averaging double-figures in points; Walter (15 ppg), Gentry (12.8) and forward Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Christian-Addison, Ranger College ) (12.1).
The latter will likely be held out for a third straight game. His 62 three-pointers is tops on the squad. He is second on the team in rebounds (6.2 rpg) behind Emmanuel Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / LR Parkview HS).
Coach Donnie Bostwick is working on defining the second unit and their roles in preparation for post-season play.
Which group of five will earn their way into the fray for the season’s most significant games?
That unit currently appears to be Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian), Drew Erskine (Houston, Tx / Victoria West HS, Centenary College), Daniel Mills (Belton, Tx / Belton HS), Andre Creer (Ft. Worth, Tx / Trimble Tech HS, Angelina College) and Remington Mitchell (Mansfield, Tx / Mansfield HS).
The Lions play at John Brown (19-9) in the season finale on Saturday at 3:00pm. Livestream video will be available. The Golden Eagles have righted their ship, winning seven of their last eight games.
The SAC will announce the schedule for next week’s conference tournament in Shawnee, Ok. SAGU will play on Thursday, March 6, against the winner of the opening round clash between the 8th-vs-9th place teams.