BEAUMONT, Texas — From Lamar Athletics
After having a 15-point second half lead evaporate, Lamar University found itself needing to rally Wednesday evening against Northwestern State and rally they did. After falling behind by three points late, LU closed out the game on a 15-7 run to defeat the Demons, 75-70, at the Montagne Center.
“Northwestern (State) is a very talented team,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “We knew they would make a run. They have been holding teams to an average of 67 points per game in conference play. I thought a huge key in this game was points off turnovers. We forced them into 25 and took advantage of the extra possessions. I’m proud of how our players continued to grind tonight.”
The Cardinals (13-12/6-6 SLC) finished the night shooting 24-of-54 (.444) from the field, including a 6-of-12 (.500) mark from three-point range. Big Red also took advantage of their opportunities from the free throw line converting 21-of-27 (.778) attempts, led by junior Jordan Hunter’s 9-of-10 effort (.900), including six-straight makes down the stretch. Hunter finished the night with 19 points.
“Jordan hit some big free throws for us down the stretch,” said Price. “He came up in some very clutch situations tonight. I really thought Josh stepped up in the second half and played the way he is capable of playing. We needed him too because (Northwestern State’s) Ishmael Lane is a man-child in the paint.”
The Red and White also forced their guests into 25 turnovers which they converted into 22 points.
Northwestern State shot better than 50 percent for the game following a 16-of-30 (.533) effort in the final 20 minutes of action. The Demons also converted 7-of-17 (.412) from three-point range. NSU’s Malik Metoyer led three Demons in double figures with 12 points.
The Cardinals finished the night with three players in double figures. In addition to Hunter’s 19 points, senior Nick Garth led the way with 23, while classmate Josh Nzeakor added 17 points and eight rebounds (all eight coming in the second half).
Garth hit a three-pointer with 13:40 remaining to give the Cardinals a 15-point lead with just under 14 minutes remaining. It appeared LU was cruising its next victory, but the Demons responded to the made basket by going on a run that would eventually give them a lead.
Sparked by a Vonte Ott layup and a Metoyer three-ball, the Demons rattled off a 19-5 run to pull within a point just six minutes later. Northwestern State took their first lead since early in the first half following another Metoyer basket. After Ott followed with a layup just seconds later, the Demons had a three-point lead (63-60) and all the momentum.
Following an LU timeout, the Cardinals came out of the huddle refocused. The Cardinals scored the next six points, including consecutive Nzeakor baskets, to reclaim a three-point advantage. The surge sparked a 15-7 run as LU rallied for the win.
The Cardinals return to action Saturday against league-leading Sam Houston State. The game is slated to tip off at 4:30 p.m. from the Montagne Center, and will serve as reunion weekend for the basketball program. The Cardinals will be honoring the 1968-69 and 1978-79 squads, along with former standout James Gulley.
The game can be heard live on Newstalk 560 KLVI and streamed live on ESPN3.