BEAUMONT, Texas – Lamar University got a field goal from junior Nick Garth with 11:52 remaining in the second half to take an 11-point lead but the Cardinals were held without a field goal for the remainder of the game dropping a 63-58 decision to Southeastern Louisiana Wednesday evening at the Montagne Center.
The Cardinals (10-8/2-3 Southland) were held to five free throws following Garth’s layup as SLU outscored their hosts 36-16 in the second half. Big Red’s struggles in the second (5-of-25/.200) made everyone forget the team’s hot start. LU opened the contest knocking down 50 percent of its attempts, including a 6-of-12 (.500) from three-point range as the Cardinals built a 16-point first half lead.
The two teams reversed roles in the second half as SLU shot better than 60 percent (16-of-26) from the field in the final 20 minutes, a stark contrast from their 10-of-30 effort in the opening half. The Lions finished the night 5-of-19 (.263) on threes but took care of business on the glass outrebounding the Cards, 41-34, including 10 offensive rebounds.
The Red and White forced Southeastern into four more turnovers but could not take advantage as both teams finished the night with 12 points off turnovers.
“The second half we didn’t play with the same energy and effort that we did in the first half to build a lead,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “I’m very disappointed. This was a great opportunity for our team to beat a team that was undefeated in league play and we let it slip. We have to understand the importance of wearing that Lamar uniform. We didn’t make the toughness plays tonight.”
Junior Josh Nzeakor led three Cardinals in double figures just missing a double-double with 15 points – all coming in the first half – and nine rebounds. Garth scored 13 points and senior Colton Weisbrod added 12 points and seven rebounds.
The Lions (10-7/4-0 SLC) were led by Marlain Veal’s 15 points and eight rebounds. Jabbar Singleton added 14 points.
The Cardinals wasted little time in building a cushion in the first half. After leading by just one with 13:48 on the clock, LU rattled off a 13-5 run to take a nine-point advantage. LU pushed that lead to double digits just moments later following an and-one from Nzeakor.
Big Red utilized a 7-0 run to take a 15-point lead with less than 7:30 remaining in the opening half. After the Lions trimmed the deficit down to 10 points, LU responded with baskets from Garth and a James Harrison three-pointer (3:39) to take a 16-point lead. It appeared the Cardinals were on the verge of a knockout punch, a punch that never came.
Southeastern trimmed the lead down to 10 points less than two minutes into the second half. The Lions got a basket in the paint from Keith Charleston to trim the deficit down to nine points, 47-38. The teams traded baskets on the next four possessions before the Cardinals got a layup from Garth to reclaim an 11-point lead, 53-42. It would be the Cardinals’ last field goal of the night as the lead slowly evaporated over the final game’s final 11 minutes.
There would be just one field goal for the next 3:04 but the next Southeastern basket sparked an 11-1 run that saw SLU reclaim the lead, 55-54, with 4:21 remaining. It was their first lead since the 14:58 mark of the first half, and it would be the game’s final lead change as the Cardinals could manage just four free throws in the final 3:08.
The Cardinals will have a couple extra days to prepare for their next opponent as they return to action Wednesday, Jan. 17 against Incarnate Word. The game against UIW will tip off at 7 p.m. from San Antonio and can be heard live on Newstalk 560 KLVI.
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