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Lamar gets first conference win of the season

Avery Sullivan scored a career-high 25 points and pulled down 12 rebounds

BEAUMONT, Texas — Senior Avery Sullivan scored a career-high 25 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead Lamar University to a 71-65 victory over Houston Baptist at the Montagne Center Saturday afternoon. It is the second-straight game Sullivan has recorded a double-double, and the first Southland victory of the season for the Red and White.

Sullivan was joined in double-figures by junior Quinlan Bennett and sophomore Anderson Kopp – 10 points each – for an offense that shot better than 40 percent from the field (27-of-55). The Cardinals struggled from long range Saturday knocking down just 3-of-16 attempts.

Freshman Kasen Harrison finished the game with nine points – seven of which came in the second half – and six assists – all of which came in the second half, while junior Lincoln Smith came off the bench to score eight points, pull down seven rebounds and record one steal.

In a game that came down to the wire, the Cardinals took advantage of their opportunities from the free throw line connecting on 14-of-17 (.824) attempts. The Cardinals outrebounded their guests, 34-24, including 11 offensive rebounds. LU converted the 11 offensive boards into 17 second chance points and ended the day with a 17-4 advantage in that category.

"I thought our guys showed some real character today," said LU head coach Tic Price. "I wasn't sure mentally how we would play today coming off the loss at Nicholls the way we did. In addition to that, we have several guys banged up so we had to play both Kopp and Sullivan for 40 minutes.

"A couple of key stats from today, we outrebounded a much bigger team, 34-24, and we shot better than 82 percent from the free throw line. Defensively, we've got to continue to get better. They got us on a couple layups in the second half when our help-side defense wasn't there. We made the adjustments in the game, but we have to get that fixed moving forward. I'm proud of how our guys kept their composure during crunch time," added Price.

The Huskies were 26-of-49 (.531) from the field, including nine three-pointers, but not even that was enough to overcome LU's defense. The Southland's leading scoring offense, which came into the game averaging better than 72 points, was held well below their season average. HBU also led the conference in free throw percentage but converted just 4-of-8 attempts Saturday.

The Cardinals forced their guests into 22 turnovers which LU converted into 17 points.

The Huskies finished the night with two players in double figures led by 16 points and 10 rebounds from Pedro Castro.

The Cardinals led for all but 1:15 of the first half and led by as many as eight points in the opening 20 minutes, including a 25-17 advantage with 4:35 remaining in the half. HBU mounted a rally to close the half and go into the locker room tied at 30. The Huskies outscored LU 13-5 during that stretch, which included a Myles Pierre three-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game heading into the locker room.

The Huskies opened the second half with the same amount of intensity in which they closed the first building a nine-point lead, less than three minutes into the second. The 24-7 HBU run came to an end at the free throw line when Sullivan knocked down both attempts. The Cardinals kept up the pressure and clawed their way back within a point, 41-40, on a Smith jumper with less than 14 to play.

The Huskies managed to keep LU at arm's length pushing their lead back to seven with eight to play. Following two Harrison free throws, the Cardinals got a stop on the other end of the floor and followed it up with a Kopp triple to pull within two, 56-54, with 7:18 to play. Big Red finally got to the top of the hill less than two minutes later when junior Davion Buster buried his second three of the game to give LU a one-point lead – a lead it would not surrender

The Cardinals followed the Buster basket with an and-one from Bennett to take a four-point lead. It was an 11-0 momentum-changing run that saw HBU go six minutes without a basket. After building their lead to seven points with less than a minute to play, the Huskies hit two three-pointers down the stretch to keep the fans on their edge of their seat but the hometown Cards did not accommodate the rally by taking care of business at the free throw line to close out the win.

The Cardinals return to action Wednesday when they travel to Huntsville, Texas to take on Sam Houston State. The game against the Bearkats will tip off at 6:30 p.m. from Johnson Coliseum. 

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