Cards drop heartbreaker to HBU in OT

Published 8:48 am Thursday, January 3, 2019

HOUSTON, Texas – After trailing by as many as 11 points in second half, Lamar University fought back to force overtime but came up short in the extra period dropping an 88-82 decision at Houston Baptist Wednesday evening in the Southland Conference opener.

Senior Josh Nzeakor led an LU offense that shot better than 50 percent for the game with his 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting. He also pulled down eight rebounds. Nzeakor was one of four Cardinals to finish in double figures as senior Nick Garth added 14, junior Jordan Hunter scored 11 and classmate Michael Kolawole came off the bench to score 10.

LU finished the night 32-of-63 from the field but struggled to a 5-of-18 (.278) effort on three pointers. The Cardinals finished the night just 13-of-22 (.591) from the free throw line and were outrebounded, 38-36.

HBU’s offense was led by 33 points and 10 rebounds from Ian DuBose. The Huskies ended the game shooting just under 47 percent for the game, which included a 6-of-20 (.300) clip on three-pointers.

Early on the game appeared to be a contest between LU and the DuBose. The HBU sophomore scored eight of the team’s first 10 points as the Huskies started the game 7-of-10 from the field, including two three-pointers. HBU surged out of the gate taking a 14-6 lead in the game’s first four minutes.

The Cardinals settled down and rattled off a 7-1 run to pull within two midway through the half only to watch HBU push its lead back to nine. Big Red made one final push late in the opening half trimming the deficit down to four points and had a chance to get even closer but a turnover in the paint gave the ball back to Houston Baptist. The Huskies scored the final four points of the half to take a 38-31 lead into the locker room.

LU (14-of-31/.452) outshot the Huskies in the opening half, but the Red and White struggled to find the range on threes. The Cards finished the half 1-of-8 (.125) from long range, but HBU struggled as well. After knocking down their first two attempts of the half HBU finished the half just one for its final nine.

The Cardinals also struggled on the glass in the opening 20 minutes. HBU finished the half grabbing four more boards (22-18) than their guests.

Big Red turned to its defense early in the second half to chip away at the HBU advantage, including a Garth three-ball to pull within three, 43-40, with just under 16 minutes remaining. The Huskies responded by pushing their lead back to nine points, but Garth momentarily stopped the run with second three-pointer.

Down 11, 57-46, with less than 12 to play the Cardinals scored a basket but got charged a technical foul which the Huskies followed by converting both free throws. Despite falling down by double digits, the technical seemed to reignite the LU defense. The Cardinals utilized their defense to make four consecutive stops scoring six-straight points to move back within five, 57-52, with 9:30 remaining in the contest.

After extending their lead again, the Cardinals made another run pulling within two, 68-66, with less than four minutes to play following a Hunter three-pointer and two Mike Kolawole free throws. HBU got two free throws on the ensuing possession but the Cardinals answered with a Hunter three to pull LU within one, 70-69, with just over two minutes remaining.

Trailing by a point, the Cardinals appeared to take their first lead of the second half just moments later when LU forced a turnover and Nzeakor followed a miss with a slam, but the basket was waived off due to offensive goaltending. LU got the ball back with less a minute remaining but came up empty on the offense end and was forced to foul HBU’s Oliver Lynch-Daniels who missed both free throws. LU came away with the rebound and had three attempts at the basket before HBU’s Edward Hardt fouled T.J. Atwood in the act of shooting, who hit one of two free throws to tie the game and force overtime.

After scoring the first basket of the overtime period HBU followed with consecutive threes. Twice in overtime the Cardinals forced a turnover and appeared to be headed to the free throw (and trailing by just a point) only to be called for an offensive foul on both possessions. HBU was able to extend their lead down the stretch at the free throw line to hold on for the win.

The Cardinals will be back in action Saturday when they return home to host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The game against the Islanders will tip off at 4:30 p.m. from the Montagne Center, and will be broadcast live on Newstalk 560 KLVI. It can also been seen on live on ESPN3.