MONROE, La. — In his first game of the season, junior Davion Buster fires up a half court shot at the buzzer to put the final touches on Lamar University’s come-from-behind victory over UL Monroe Wednesday evening at Fant-Ewing Coliseum. The buzzer beater gave LU its first victory of the season in Buster’s first game of the year,
“I think we’ve learned some lessons from our earlier losses, those were tough games,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “I know it’s cliché, but tonight we wrestled victory from jaws of defeat. We started the second half on a run, and I could see our confidence growing. We went with a smaller lineup and that gave us better defense. The guys simply didn’t quit. We’ve been looking at our mistakes on film and we made some adjustments. We made some mistakes tonight too, but we’re getting better.”
The Cardinals trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half before they began to take control of the game. After shooting less than 35 percent from the field in the opening half, the Cardinals shot better than 44 percent in the second half. Big Red shot 25-of-63 (.397) from the field while outscoring their opponents by 14 points in the second half. The Warhawks finished the game 25-of-57 (.439), but struggled mightily from the free throw line converting just 5-of-14 (.357) attempts.
Junior Quinlan Bennett led the Cardinals with 17 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. Buster finished the night with 16 points – 11 of which came in the second half. Senior Avery Sullivan fouled out of the game with 22 seconds remaining but still scored 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Russell Harrison led the Warhawks’ effort with a game-high 22 points.
After ULM scored the game’s opening basket, the Cardinals registered the game’s next three scores and held their hosts at arm’s length for the next seven minutes. The Warhawks managed to reclaim a one-point lead on a Josh Nicholas’ three-pointer. The basket sparked a 9-0 run as ULM pushed their advantage to seven points.
The Warhawks pushed their advantage to 11 before Bennett trimmed the deficit with a three-pointer at the 4:10 mark to pull LU back with eight points. Unfortunately, it was the Cards final field goal of the half.
The Cardinals finished the opening half 10-of-29 (.345) from the field, while ULM knocked down 15-of-31 (.484). Big Red turned the ball over nine times in the opening half, which the Warhawks took advantage of with 15 points.
After ULM built its lead to a game-high 13 to open the second half, the Cardinals responded with an 8-2 run to trim the deficit down to five. ULM pushed the lead back to seven but the Cardinals got a quick basket from sophomore Anderson Kopp in the paint to trim the deficit back to five. Unfortunately, the Warhawks responded with an 11-4 run to build their lead to 12 with 8:42 remaining.
After falling behind by 12, the Cardinals began to methodically chip away at the lead. The Cardinals hit their next seven attempts from the field to spark a 16-4 run, trimming the deficit down to three following a Kasen Harrison basket with 3:44 remaining. Moments later the Cardinals drew even on a Buster triple with 2:53 remaining.
After ULM stopped the bleeding momentarily with a basket to retake a two-point lead, the Cardinals took their first lead of the game since the first half when Buster buried a fadeaway three from with 1:26 remaining in the game.
After both teams came up empty on their next possession, Sullivan was called for a foul on Koreem Ozier preventing a layup. It was Sullivan’s fifth foul of the game, but it would prove pivotal in the final outcome. Ozier was 0-for-5 from the stripe with 22 seconds remaining on the clock and missed both attempts. The Cardinals got the rebound and couldn’t convert on the other end of the floor leading to a ULM basket to tie the game with eight seconds remaining.
Price used a timeout with three seconds on the clock to set up one final play. The Cardinals got the ball in the hands of Buster who stepped up to play the role of hero putting up the gamewinner just before the buzzer sounded.
“We’ve missed Davion in these early games,” said Price. “When you have Davion Buster on the court, he draws so much attention. I’m proud of how our kids stayed the course and kept their composure.”
The Cardinals are slated to return to action Tuesday, Dec. 15, when they return to Beaumont to host Southern Mississippi. The game against the Golden Eagles with tip off at 7 p.m. from the Montagne Center and serve as LU’s home opener.