NEW ORLEANS, La. – New Orleans (5-8/2-3 SLC) used a late surge to break open a close game defeating Lamar, 77-55, Thursday evening at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. The loss drops Lamar to 1-16 on the season and 1-5 in Southland Conference play.
New Orleans broke a close game open late in the second half with some timely three-point shots, and taking advantage of Lamar's turnovers. After only hitting two threes in the opening half, the Privateers were 5-of-10 from beyond the arc and forced Lamar into 19 turnovers which they cashed in for 25 points. Lamar forced their hosts into 14 miscues but could only score 11 points off the mistakes.
"I've been around the game a long time, and we tell these guys that you have to value the basketball," said assistant coach Kermit Holmes. "We run drills every day in practice to protect the ball. You just can't turn the ball over and expect to win. It's not like we're turning the ball over under extreme duress. It's all about concentration, securing the basketball and making plays."
Similar to Lamar's start Saturday against McNeese State, the Cardinals struggled from the field in the opening five minutes converting only one of their first nine attempts. Senior Amos Wilson finally ended the drought when he knocked down an 18-footer from inside the circle. After the 1-for-9 start, Lamar responded by hitting 5-of-the-next-8 attempts, and tied the game at 15 following sophomore Rhon Mitchell conversion of a three-point play. Mitchell finished the game with nine points and nine rebounds.
Trailing by three again with just over five minutes remaining in the opening half, sophomore Donnell Minton went to the free throw line for an and-one after burying a jumper in the paint. Minton converted the three-point play tie the game at 22. The Cardinals would reclaim a two-point lead before New Orleans would go on an 8-0 run to take a six-point advantage with seconds remaining in the half. Lamar went into the locker room scoring the final basket of the half to pull within four, 30-26.
Lamar outshot their hosts in the opening half despite the slow start. LU finished the half shooting 41 percent from the floor, while the Privateers were 11-of-28 (.393) from the field. The Privateers also hit four more free throws than Lamar attempted in the opening 20 minutes.
Lamar did a good job of getting everyone involved in the scoring in the game's opening half as seven different players scored, led by Mitchell's seven points. He also pulled down a seven rebounds.
With just under 14 minutes remaining in the second, New Orleans went on a 7-0 run to take a 12-point lead. Lamar responded with five unanswered and eventually cut the deficit back to five points but the Cardinals would get no closer has UNO hit some clutch three pointers down the stretch to extend the lead.
Ross was one of two Cardinals to finish the game in double digits leading LU with 13 points. Junior Nimrod Hilliard scored eight second-half points to finish the game with 10. UNO had four players in double digits led by Kevin Hill's 17 points and 12 rebounds.
The Cardinals return to action Saturday when they travel to Hammond, La. to face the Southeastern Louisiana Lions. The game against SLU is slated to begin at 4 p.m. from the University Center.