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Lamar edges Mcneese State to win Battle of the Border

The Cardinals return to action Wednesday when they host Central Arkansas

LAKE CHARLES, La. — Sophomore Davion Buster tied a Lamar University and Southland Conference single-game record with 11 three-pointers to lead Big Red to a 96-91 victory over McNeese Saturday afternoon at the H&HP Complex in Lake Charles, La. Buster finished the game with a career-high 39 points on 11-of-18 (.611) shooting from beyond the arc, as the Cardinals ended a seven-game win streak for McNeese.
The victory moves LU to 11-11 (.500) on the season and 5-6 (.455) in Southland play, while McNeese falls to 12-10 (.545) and 7-4 (.636) league play.
Buster was one of three Cardinals to finish in double figures as Big Red shot better than 50 percent (33-of-65/.508) from the field, including a 14-of-32 (.438) performance on threes. The Cardinals were also on target at the free throw line converting 16-of-20 (.800) attempts.
Freshman Anderson Kopp scored a career-high with 19 points, while senior T.J. Atwood scored 17. Junior Avery Sullivan added nine points on 4-of-5 (.800) shooting. Senior V.J. Holmes set a career high with 10 assists in the game.
The Cowboys shot 33-of-70 (.471) from the field and hit nine threes of their own. McNeese won the battle on the boards, 41-33.
"Davion is a rhythm shooter, and once he made those first two threes he found a groove and kept it going," said LU head coach Tic Price. "He did have 39 points, but like I told the team, someone had to get him the ball and V.J. Holmes finished the night with 10 assists. We did some good things down the stretch to get the victory."
The Cardinals jumped out of the gates quickly knocking down seven of their first 10 attempts to build an early 14-6 lead. LU pushed their advantage to 13, 19-6, after a Buster three-ball. The Austin native started the game 3-of-4 from long range.
After a 3-of-11 (.273) start from the field, McNeese rattled off a 7-0 run sparked by a Trey Johnson three-pointer to trim the LU lead down to six, 19-13, but the Cardinals responded with a free throw line jumper from Atwood who used the pump fake to get his defender in the air.
Despite stopping the McNeese run momentarily, the Cowboys were able to pull within a point, 37-36, on a Myles Hutchinson basket with 2:25 remaining in the half. LU wasted little time retaliating with a Buster three (one of eight in the first half) just seven seconds later. The three sparked an 11-6 run to close the half as LU took a seven-point lead into the locker room, 48-41.
Both teams shot 50 percent in the opening half, but the difference came from long range. LU converted 10-of-21 (.476) three-point attempts, while the Cowboys were 5-of-11 (.455) from beyond the arc. The Cardinals outrebounded their guests, 20-15, in the opening 20 minutes.
Cardinals scored the first four points of the second half to push their lead back to double-digits, but foul trouble to three players followed by a McNeese run saw the Cowboys pull within in seven. LU followed the run with an and-one from Ellis Jefferson and a Sullivan layup.
The Cardinals carried a 16-point lead into the under eight media timeout, but McNeese broke the huddle and responded with makes on four consecutive possessions to trim the lead down to 11 with just over six minutes remaining. Big Red found an answer on a nice spin move from Atwood on the baseline for a basket.
After trailing by 14, the Cowboys rattled off an 11-3 run to trim the LU lead down to eight with 4:24 remaining. The Cards stimmed the tide momentarily after two Atwood free throws. The Cowboys responded, after forcing a turnover McNeese got an and-one to cut the lead down to five, 87-82, but the Cardinals went back to Buster who buried a step-back three – his 11th of the game – to tie a single-game school and Southland record, and more importantly give LU back an eight-point advantage with 1:37 remaining.
"We had some concerns going down the stretch because we had so many players in foul trouble," said Price. "I thought our guys really stepped up when they had to – everyone of them. Even the guys on the bench remained engaged on sideline. During timeouts they were energized which helped the five on the floor keep up their energy."
To win the game, the Cardinals were forced to the free throw line, but LU made good on their attempts converting 5-of-6 in the game's final 90 seconds to seal the victory.
The Cardinals return to action Wednesday when they host Central Arkansas. The game against the Bears will tip off at 7 p.m. from the Montagne Center.

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