Seniors Go Out with Victory
Beaumont, TX —
Junior Nick Garth scored a team-high 22 points to lead the Lamar University Cardinals to a come-from-behind 79-76 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Saturday night in the Montagne Center on Senior Night. The victory pushed Big Red to six games over .500 on the season, and 9-6 in Southland Conference play, as LU continues the climb back up the Southland standings.
Saturday's thrilling victory marked the final home game for six LU seniors, including Nome, Texas native, Zjori Bosha, who was LU head coach Tic Price's first recruit as head coach.
Despite the fact Garth walked away with team-high honors, it was the play of senior Joey Frenchwood who set the stage for Garth's big night. Frenchwood scored 12 points and directed an offense that finished the night with just seven turnovers. The Cardinals ended the night with a near 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio as Frenchwood dished out nine assists with no turnovers.
"Our guys did a really good job sharing the ball tonight," said Price. "We had some real balanced scoring, and everyone played unselfish basketball. Joey Frenchwood really had a strong game for us."
The Cardinals rode a hot second half to finish the night better than 50 percent from the field (30-of-56/.536). Big Red was 20-of-31 (.645) from the floor in the second half, and 7-of-21 (.333) on threes for the game. LU also took the Islanders to task on the boards outrebounding them by three, 32-29 – a stat made even more impressive when considering the Cards were getting beat on the boards at halftime, 20-15.
"One effort area we always look at is rebounding," said Price. "We outrebounded them for the game but in the first half they were beating us up on boards pretty good. I was proud of how we got on the glass in the second half.
"You have to give Corpus Christi a ton of credit. They're fighting to get in the tournament and they were playing like there is no tomorrow. I thought they really came ready to play," added Price.
In addition to Garth and Frenchwood, senior Colton Weisbrod just missed another double-double with 14 points and eight rebounds. He also finished the night with four assists and no turnovers.
Kareem South led the Islanders' offense with 23 points. South was one of three Islanders to finish the night in double figures for a squad that shot 29-of-57 (.509) from the field. A&M-Corpus Christi had a strong night from three-point range converting 8-of-19 (.421) attempts.
Big Red also got a huge lift from its bench outscoring the Islanders, 32-12.
It wasn't all smiles for the senior class Saturday night. There were several tense moments for the Red and White to start the game as A&M-Corpus Christi opened the night on a 10-0 run. The Cardinals didn't hit their first field goal until the 14:44 mark on a Colton Weisbrod layup in traffic. The deficit ballooned to as many as 11 before the Cardinals settled down and made it a ball game.
"It was senior night, and I think we might have got caught a little too much up in emotions of that," said Price. "We got caught being a little too relaxed but even before the coaching staff had made its way into the locker room at halftime the team was talking among themselves about corrections that needed to be made. We made the appropriate adjustments at halftime and that was key to us getting the win in the second half."
It was still an 11-point deficit when freshman Jordan Foster got a basket in the paint to trim the lead down to single digits, 26-17, with 5:29 remaining in the half. Although the Islanders would get the lead back to 10 points one more time in the half, Foster's basket sparked a 15-6 run that saw LU pull to within two, 32-30, with 12 seconds remaining in the opening half. Unfortunately, the Islanders would have the final look in the half and Joseph Kilgore would make it count on a 15-footer just before the buzzer.
The buzzer beater served as a momentary shift in the momentum to start the second half as the Islanders got buckets from Kilgore and South to start the half and reclaim an eight-point lead, 38-30, less than a minute into the second.
The Red and White responded to the quick start and trimmed the deficit to a single point just moments later following another Weisbrod layup. The Cardinals would have their first shot to take the lead on their very next trip down the floor as Weisbrod rebounded a Kilgore miss.
The Cardinals fed the ball to Frenchwood on the next possession and he buried a three – one of three on the night for Frenchwood – to give the Cardinals a 45-43 lead with 15:32 remaining. The Islanders would reclaim the lead on the next possession which would spark a run that saw LU take a lead it would not surrender.
The Cardinals built a seven-point advantage after Garth was fouled attempting a three-pointer. Garth hit all three attempts to give the home team a 61-54 lead with less than 10 to play.
A&M-Corpus Christi managed to trim the lead down to two points with 6:21 to play, but the Cardinals responded with consecutive baskets from Harrison and Weisbrod to make it a two-possession game.
The Cardinals managed to keep A&M-Corpus Christi at arm's length in the closing minutes of the game getting offense when they needed it. Big Red got baskets from junior Josh Nzeakor, Bosha and two free throws from Frenchwood in the final minute to preserve the victory.
The Cardinals return to action Wednesday when they travel to Houston, Texas to take on Houston Baptist. The game against the Huskies will tip off at 7 p.m. from Sharp Gym.