BEAUMONT, Texas – Senior Lincoln Davis scored a career-high 23 points, and classmate Marcus Owens added nine points and three rebounds as Lamar University (17-13/9-8 Southland) cruised to an 87-75 victory over Nicholls Thursday on Senior Night at the Montagne Center.
The win not only sent Davis and Owens out victorious in their final home game as Cardinals, but it also locked down LU’s spot in the Southland Conference Championship Tournament in Katy, Texas next week. The tournament tips off Wednesday, Mar. 8, from the Merrell Center.
“I’m very proud of this team, and I’m very happy for our seniors,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “I felt like Lincoln had the best night of his career tonight. That is a great way to go out saving your best for senior night. He stayed in attack mode all night. Zjori Bosha also gave us some big minutes tonight, but I didn’t start him because I wanted to start the seniors. Those guys have meant a lot to our program.
“I have a great amount of respect for Marcus (Owens). He is a hard working young man on the court and in the classroom. He has never had a winning season at LU, but to go out as a winner as a senior and help build this program back is speaks volumes about his character.”
Four Cardinals finished the night in double figures as LU shot nearly 44 percent from the field. LU overcame a slow first half to convert 13-of-26 (.500) attempts in the final 20 minutes. Joining Davis in double digits were sophomore Nick Garth (13) and juniors Colton Weisbrod (12) and Zjori Bosha (12).
Despite’s the Red and White’s struggles from the floor in the first half, they never cooled off from beyond the arc. Big Red started the game on fire from long range and kept up the pace for 40 minutes. LU finished the night 12-of-23 (.522) from three-point range, including a 6-of-11 performance in the second half.
Nicholls shot better than 50 percent from the field in the opening half, and finished the game 28-of-59 (.475). The Southland’s top three-point shooting team (threes per game) was held to a 7-of-26 (.269) performance. Jahvaughn Powell was one of four Colonels in double figures finishing the night with 24 points on 8-of-12 (.667) shooting.
Despite a noticeable size disadvantage, the Cardinals were able to outrebound their guests by seven, 40-33. Among the Cardinals’ 40 rebounds, 17 were on the offensive end with which led to 11 second-chance points. The Cardinals also got a huge lift from its bench outscoring Nicholls’ reserves, 33-18.
The game wasn’t all smiles Thursday evening. In fact, the beginning of the game held several tense moments for the LU faithful. After jumping out to an early four-point lead, the Cardinals watched their guests rattle off a 12-2 run to take a six-point lead.
LU was able to end the run on the defensive end of the floor when Bosha came up with three consecutive steals. Big Red reclaimed the lead on a Davis’ three-pointer -- one of four on the night for the senior – and the Cardinals never looked back. LU pushed its lead to double-digits within 90 seconds and took a nine-point advantage into the locker room.
It was more of the same in the second half as the Red and White saw their advantage balloon to as many as 17 points before Nicholls trimmed the final deficit down to 12. The Colonels cut the deficit to nine points once in the second half but that came early in the half.
“We felt like we needed to have some breakthroughs tonight,” said Price. “We wanted to be back in the tournament. It has been too long, and our guys took care of that tonight. It’s also been several years since we have swept the season series from Nicholls, and the guys wanted to accomplish that as well. Those were two things we were motivated to do tonight.”
The Cardinals now turn their attention to the regular-season finale in Lake Charles, La. Saturday. The game against rival McNeese is slated to tip off at 3 p.m. from Burton Coliseum.