Cards Outduel Roadrunners

BEAUMONT, Texas – Nick Garth scored a game-high 24 points and led five Lamar University Cardinals in double-figures as LU recorded a 78-58 victory over former Southland Conference foe UTSA Tuesday evening in the Montagne Center.

Off to their best start since the 2008-09 season, the Cardinals (3-1) shot better than 43 percent from the field and knocked down nearly 38 percent of their three-pointers (11-of-29) against UTSA. Big Red also finished the night with 17 assists to only eight turnovers, while force the Roadrunners (1-4) into 11 mistakes which they converted into 13 points.

LU had four players finish the night with at least seven rebounds as it won the battle on the boards, 43-37.

Joining Garth in double figures were juniors Colton Weisbrod, Torey Noel and Joey Frenchwood and senior Marcus Owens. Weisbrod finished the night with 13 points, nine of which came in the second half, and eight rebounds. Owens and Frenchwood each added 12, while Noel chipped in 10.

“I’m real proud of our guys tonight,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “We gave real good effort. This was a war of wills to see who would be the first to fold. I’m proud of the fact that we held one of the nation’s best offensive rebounding teams to just seven offensive boards. We did a great on the glass.

“For us to hold a team like that to just 37.9 percent from the field and just 11 percent from the three-point line is impressive because all of those things are effort areas. We were very determined to not let another team come in here and impose its will,” added Price.

The Red and White clad fans didn’t have to wait long to celebrate as the Cards opened the game on a 17-4 run. After cutting the lead down to seven points, Owens responded with a three-pointer to push the advantage back to double-digits with just under 19 minutes remaining in the half, but that is when things got interesting.

LU managed just one point over the next 7:44 and the Roadrunners began chipping away at the lead. Following a jumper by UTSA’s Giovanni De Nicolao with 2:25 remaining in the half, UTSA cut the lead down to three points. The basket seemed to re-energize the Cardinals who finished the half on a 9-1 run to take an 11-point lead, 32-21, into the locker room.

Big Red was able to prevent their guests from making an extended run by holding them to just 8-fo-29 (.276) shooting in the first half, which included a 0-for-9 mark from the free throw line. Despite UTSA’s struggles from the field, Big Red left the door open with several missed layups in the first 20 minutes.

The Roadrunners came out of the locker room and made the game interesting again trimming LU’s double-digit advantage down to three, 43-40, less than eight minutes into the half. Following a three-pointer from Garth – one of a career-high six – and an old fashion three-point play from Weisbrod the Cardinals pushed their lead back to 10 points.

“Nick got hot tonight, so we started running some plays for him,” said Price. “He pretty much put the dagger in UTSA in the second half. Having said that, this was a total team effort.”

It wasn’t until a defensive stand by sophomore Dorian Chatman with 5:23 remaining in the game that the Cardinals seemed to gain control for good. Still leading by 10, the Roadrunners had consecutive shots in the paint blocked by Chatman which led to a transition three by Garth at the other end of the floor. From that point on the Cardinals continued to increase their advantage to the final margin of 20, despite the fact UTSA closed the game by shooting nearly 50 percent in the second half (14-of-29).

“We played a team tonight that gives good effort,” said Price. “The challenge with our team was to not let another team come into the Montagne and give better effort than us. We won the effort areas, we locked them up defensively and we won the battle of the boards, but most importantly when UTSA made its run we kept our composure.”

The Cardinals return to action Friday when they travel to Prairie View A&M. The game against the Panthers is slated to begin at 4 p.m.