LAKE CHARLES, La. — Lamar University had three players hit the 20-point plateau, and fans were treated to extra basketball but for all the excitement during the game, things ended in heartbreaking fashion as Lamar University dropped a 98-91 overtime decision to Western Carolina Saturday afternoon at the Legacy Center.
Freshman Nate Calmese led a Cardinal trio to score at least 20 points in the game. Calmese netted 27, while junior Adam Hamilton scored 24 on 12-of-15 shooting (connected on his first 10 attempts) and classmate Chris Pryor added 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Sophomore Jakevion Buckley also reached double figures with 11 points.
As a team the Cardinals shot nearly 62 percent from the field (39-of-63), with just one triple. The Cardinals also took advantage of their trips at the free throw line converting 12-of-15 (.800).
Led by 19 points from Vonterius Woolbright, WCU was 33-of-61 (.541) from the field, including 16 three-pointers.
The two teams were nearly even on the glass with the Catamounts holding a slim two-rebound advantage, 29-27.
Both teams got off to a quick starts – WCU – 7-of-14 and LU 6-of-10 – but the Catamounts found themselves up eight early. Similar to Friday’s game, the Cardinals never quit attacking and never allowed their opponents a moment’s rest.
Hamilton knocked down a layup in traffic to pull the Cardinals within four (with less than seven to play) and then LU forced a turnover on the other end of the floor. Hamilton got another feed in the paint and finished to pull Big Red within a basket. Unfortunately, the Catamounts responded with consecutive three-pointers to extend the lead.
Moments later, the Cardinals managed to take advantage of a Western Carolina mistake. After grabbing a rebound the Cards had a breakaway, but Woolbright got caught grabbing Calmese’s jersey and was whistled for the intentional foul. The Cardinals converted the free throw and then found Hamilton for another layup on the ensuing possession to take a one-point lead.
The Cardinals took that lead into the locker room following a basket from Calmese at the buzzer.
The Cardinals finished the half on fire converting 19-of-28 (.679) from the field, but oddly just 1-of-6 from three-point range. Big Red took advantage of its size in the paint outscoring Western Carolina, 26-12, in the opening 20 minutes.
WCU was also in rhythm offensively converting 14-of-27 (.519) attempts but managed to stay in the game converting seven threes (7-of-16/.438). The two teams were even on the glass with 11 rebounds each.
The game remained tight throughout the second half as neither team could gain a lead greater than five points. With 50 seconds remaining the two teams found themselves tied but a Tre Jackson three-pointer with 19 seconds left appeared to be the dagger WCU was looking for. The Cardinals got the ball to the other end of the floor and the Catamounts fouled Pryor on a three-point attempt with three-tenths of a second remaining. Pryor calmly stepped up and hit all three attempts to send the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, the Catamounts scored the first four points only to see LU respond immediately to tie the game. WCU pushed its lead back to three following an and-one and it became a five-point lead after a Cardinal miss on one end followed by a Catamount make. The Cardinals were unable to close the gap down the stretch.
The Cardinals return to action Sunday for the final day of competition in the McNeese MTE. Big Red will take on tournament-host, and rival, McNeese at 1:30 p.m. from the Legacy Center.