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Lamar grinds out 79-69 win over Houston Baptist

The Cardinals return to action Wednesday when the travel to Huntsville, Texas to face Sam Houston State.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Junior Avery Sullivan scored a game-high 22 points to lead Lamar University to a 10-point victory over Houston Baptist, 79-69, Saturday afternoon in the Montagne Center. The victory gives LU a sweep of the season series, and at the very least keeps Big Red in a tie for eighth place in the conference standings (depending on the outcome of the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi/Abilene Christian game) with a 13-13 (.500) overall record and 7-8 (.467) mark in Southland Conference play.
 
Sullivan was 7-of-11 from the field and led four Cardinals in double figures as senior T.J. Atwood scored 19 points and just missed a double-double with a game-high nine rebounds. Sophomore Davion Buster added 13 points and freshman Anderson Kopp showed signs of breaking out of his slump with 10 points. The Houston native also pulled down six rebounds.
 
As a team, the Cardinals were 29-of-61 (.475) for the game following a 52-percent effort in the opening half. Despite their solid shooting from the field, the Cardinals found it tough from long range knocking down just 6-of-21 (.286) attempts. The Cardinals took advantage of their free throws converting nearly 72 percent of their attempts.
 
The Cardinals outrebounded their guests 38-34, including 11 offensive boards which led to a nine-point advantage in second chance points. LU also turned Houston Baptist over 15 times with led to 18 points.
 
The Huskies finished the game shooting 27-of-64 (.422) from the field and knocked down 8-of-23 (.348) attempts from three-point range. HBU was led by 18 points from Jalon Gates and 16 from Ian DuBose.
 
"We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a very tough test," said LU head coach Tic Price. "HBU is a very dangerous squad. They can put up a lot of points and came into this game with nothing to lose. We're a team that lost nearly 79 percent of our scoring from last year, and better than 70 percent of our rebounds. So, we're still trying to make up for that with some very young guys. It is a process.
 
"Rebounds are one of the key areas we look at – it's an effort area. We outrebounded Houston Baptist today. But I had to get on some guys at halftime because I didn't feel like our effort was where it needed to be," added Price.
 
The Cardinals jumped out to an early 10-5 lead less than five minutes into the game. After HBU cut the lead down to a point, the Cardinals rattled off a 13-2 run to push their advantage to 12 points with just over nine minutes remaining in the half. LU watch their lead climb to as many as 15 before the Huskies closed the half by trimming the deficit down to eight, 41-33.
 
The Huskies came out in the second half and made things interesting trimming the lead down to a single possession after baskets from Gates and DuBose. Refusing to surrender the lead, the Cardinals went on a 9-2 run over the games next 2:57, sparked by an offensive rebound and put back from Atwood.
 
The Huskies trimmed the lead back to five before the Cardinals got their advantage back to double digits, 64-53, following a fast break basket from Kopp. The Cardinals were on the verge of breaking the game open late but a Gates' three-ball followed by an LU missed layup which led to another Gates triple saw the Cards' lead trimmed to six with 1:43 to play.
 
Following the basket, Price called a 30-second timeout and order was restored as LU scored the game's final four points for the win.
 
The Cardinals return to action Wednesday when the travel to Huntsville, Texas to face Sam Houston State. The game against the Huskies will tip off at 6:30 p.m. from the Johnson Coliseum. It can be heard live on Newstalk 560 KLVI.

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