BEAUMONT, Texas — Lamar University rallied from a 16-point second half deficit behind freshman Nate Calmese’s game-high 21 points to knock off the Southland co-leaders, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 68-66, Thursday evening at the Montagne Center.
Calmese, who is quickly building a reputation for hitting clutch baskets in the final moments, hit three key baskets in the game’s final four minutes, including two in the final 42 seconds to give LU the lead. He buried the game-winner with eight seconds after taking the pass and driving in the lane to bury a jumper in traffic.
Calmese’s 21 points – his ninth 20-point effort of the season (which leads all freshmen in the country) – led an offense that shot 22-of-46 (.478) from the field, which included a 13-of-23 (.565) performance in the second half.
The Arizona native was joined in double figures by classmate Yuto Yamanouchi who recorded his fifth double-double of the season (10 points and 11 rebounds). Three other Cardinals scored nine points, and another had eight.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was 27-of-65 (.415) from the field but struggled from long-range converting just 25 percent of his three-point attempts.
Both teams struggled at the free throw line as the Islanders were 8-of-14 (.571), and the Cardinals were 20-of-34 (.588).
A&M-Corpus Christi also held a slim advantage on the glass, 39-38, with 16 of their rebounds coming on the offensive end.
The Cardinals came out of the locker room trailing by only six and trimmed the deficit to four on a Calmese jumper after a turnover. Unfortunately, the boys from Corpus Christi responded to the LU basket with a 14-2 run and appeared to be going for the knockout punch … a punch that was never landed.
Trailing by 16 with 14:32 remaining, the Cardinals began the comeback. Sparked by a Trey Harris basket (he finished the game with eight points and four rebounds in 13 minutes of action), the Cardinals went on a 17-7 run over the game’s next seven minutes to pull within six, 57-51.
The Islanders had many chances to extend the lead, but they were forced to take tough looks in traffic that would fall short. Big Red’s defense led to offense on the other end of the floor as the Cards continued to chip away at the lead.
LU pulled to within one with 3:40 remaining and then got a stop and forced a foul that sent Terry Anderson to the free throw line where he buried both attempts to give the Cardinals a one-point lead – their first since 18:09 in the first half. The two teams went back and forth over the game’s final four minutes leading up to the thrilling victory that had the fans in attendance on their feet for the final two minutes of the game.
The Cardinals, winners in two of their last three games, will step on the court Saturday looking to make it two in a row when UIW comes to town. The game against the Southland’s other Cardinals will tip off at 6 p.m. from the Montagne Center.