St. Catharine upsets Lions, 99-97
Questionable call ends thrilling NAIA tournament opener
Last-second bid to win saw Rambo hammered on final shot
Box Score, Play-by-Play (access below)
KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- A 17-5 run that had No. 5 ranked Southwestern Assemblies of God University on the brink of a thrilling triumph was snuffed out by a controversial, game-deciding non-call in the closing seconds of a 99-97 loss to St. Catharine College (Ky).
The defeat ended the Lions season at 26-6. No. 28 ranked St. Catharine (19-12) advances to the second round of the NAIA National Championship tournament against the winner between Xavier University and Hope International on Friday.
SAGU spent much of the game trailing by eight-to-14 points, primarily on the strength of a 47-27 mastery of the boards by the Patriots.
The relentless Lions never quit. Despite the Patriots uncharacteristic hot shooting; they made 59% of their shots, the Pride battled back against their larger, deeper opponent.
Down 84-72 with 5:33 remaining the Lions whittling away at the deficit. Wildly inconsistent during the regular season, the Patriots were forced into a season worst 33 turnovers.
Team Purple was still in arrears, 97-89, on a dunk by William Bailey with 1:42 to play.
SAGU answered by pressuring the Patriots into coughing up the ball and missing shots and free throws.
Baskets from Dominique Rambo (Dallas, Tx / Trinity Christian – Cedar Hill, Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ) and Jonathan Walter (Garland, Tx / Garland HS) pulled the team to within four. After SAGU passed up an open three-pointer and then turned the ball over, the Pats missed two charity shots with 0:28 to go.
Rambo netted a circus shot and the St. Catharine was holding onto a 97-95 lead (0:17). A questionable call on Tyler Guidry (Houston, Tx / Westbury Christian) resulted in free throws before Caleb Feemster (Addison, Tx / Trinity Chr-Addison, Ranger College) countered with two foul shots at 0:13 showing on the Municipal Auditorium clock.
Again the Patriots threw the ball away.
“The game had a surreal feel to it,” said Walter. “The comeback had a strong sense that a win for us was meant to be.”
On the ensuing possession Rambo drove inside and spotted Walter open in the corner. His three-ball bounded off the bracket part of the rim, where 6’5 Julito Hutchinson snatched the carom.
He was quickly fouled. The 37% free throw shooter missed badly on successive tries.
Rambo grabbed the rebound and, with over four seconds to play, zoomed up court. He entered the lane and attempted a pull-up jumper in front of center, Raymon Austin.
The 6’8 senior stepped into Rambo and knocked him to the hardwood, effectively preventing him from scoring. No foul was called as the Pirates celebrated a stunning upset.
Play-by-play announcers covering the game stated the apparent foul was obviously missed by game officials.
It was the Lions second straight loss (the first back-to-back defeats this season), both of them ending with Rambo being knocked to the floor with officials failing to whistle an evident infraction. Both non-calls helped determine the winner.
In the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament opener at Oklahoma Baptist University, the Bison (15-15 this season) escaped with a 79-78 victory.
The bittersweet setback brought a premature end to a season that was filled with obstacles and challenges.
An emotional locker room struggled with the loss, which came just two days after the passing of David Bush. The team watched the NAIA Selection Show with David a week ago.
“Few teams would’ve given themselves a chance to win a game like this,” said Head Coach Donnie Bostwick, after exiting a quiet locker room.
“These guys are the biggest overcomers I have ever coached.”
Bostwick then quoted the legendary coach John Wooden when he said, “Players with fight never lose a game, they just run out of time.”
“The guys are the hardest workers, and they have blessed my life,” he continued. “They simply don’t quit. I love these men. They have spent the entire season overcoming.”
As for St. Catharine, who had their second best shooting game of the season, Bostwick credited them a with good game. “They’re a good team. They hit threes (in the first half) and free throws that are uncharacteristic of them.”
The Patriots, who average just four triples per game, made seven-of-nine by halftime. They didn’t make another after recess.
SCC also had a season-best 40 free throw attempts, netting 30 of them.
SAGU shot 42% of their shots and 28-of-35 foul shots. The team swished only one trifecta in the first half, a season low. They finished 5-of-26 (19%).
Walter hit 10-of-16 to lead the team with 28 points. The junior latched onto six boards and registered three helpers and two steals.
Rambo had 20, four assists and five steals. He was good on just six-of-22 tries.
Feemster added 16 points and eight rebounds while Gentry accounted for 15 and four steals. Emmanuel Adoyi (Little Rock, Ark / LR Parkview HS) was credited with five steals, a category the Lions dominated, 20-8.
Daniel Mills (Belton, Tx / Belton HS) led the reserves with six points.
The Patriots bench ruled in this game, outscoring the Lions’ second unit, 43-15. They made 14-of-23 shots to SAGU’s 5-of-13.
Austin paced six Patriots in double figures with 16. He also laid claim to 10 boards and blocked three shots.
St. Catharine, the NAIA’s second best team in the country in offensive rebounds (15.7 per game), finished with 12, the same total the Lions had.
More articles on the team will be posted, including Rambo being chosen to play in Saturday night’s first-ever NAIA All-Star Game.
Click on the underlined score for the box score. Click on the split blue box on the right to access the play-by-play accounts of the game.