Jan. 23, 2014
Abilene, Texas -
Bend don't break. That is how one could describe Lamar's 65-57 victory over Abilene Christian Thursday night at Moody Coliseum. The Cardinals (2-17/1-6 SLC) trailed only once in the second half, but watched their lead get trimmed numerous times only to answer every run. In the end, the Cardinals held on for Southland Conference road win snapping a 14-game skid.
"That is one thing about these guys, they have never quit playing," said head coach Pat Knight. "They have had to face some negatives but they continue to play hard. I was really happy with the effort of Amos Wilson. He added to the energy level tonight and that is what you want to see from your senior. Donnell Minton came in off the bench and gave us some quality minutes as well."
After two ACU free throws gave the Wildcats back a two-point advantage, the Cardinals went on a 9-0 run, highlighted by an alley-oop from Nimrod Hilliard to Wilson, to take a seven-point advantage. Wilson finished the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Although the seven-point lead wasn't the deciding factor in the game it set the stage for a second half that saw Lamar answer every ACU run.
Abilene Christian once again made another run sparked by two Austin Cooke three-pointers. The Wildcats cut LU's lead to one, 55-54, with just over two minutes remaining. Lamar had an answer which came in the form of junior Donovan Ross. The Ridgeland, Miss. native followed up a Hilliard miss with a tip-in. Ross' basket sparked an 8-0 run to give Lamar its largest lead of the game, 63-54. From that point the Cardinals took care of business from the free throw line to put the game away.
The Cardinals connected on 18-of-22 (.818) attempts from the free throw line, to go along with a 48 percent clip from the field. Abilene Christian was 18-of-43 (.419) from the floor but Lamar made ACU pay for their turnovers. The Wildcats turned the ball over 22 times, which Lamar converted into 17 points.
Led by sophomore Rhon Mitchell's 10 first half points, the Cardinals got out to a great start offensively. A back-n-forth affair early, Lamar erased a five-point deficit with a 16-4 run to build a 25-18, lead. While the Wildcats were struggling offensively, Lamar began to heat up. The Cardinals knocked down 11of their first 17 attempts (.647) after getting out to a 3-of-8 start from the field.
The Cardinals also took advantage of ACU's first half turnovers. The Wildcats turned the ball over 12 times which Lamar cashed in for 10 points. On the flip side, Lamar was able to neutralize the damage from their 11 opening-half turnovers allowing their hosts only three points in the opening half.
Abilene outrebounded Lamar in the opening half, but Cardinals shot better than 52 percent from the field, while holding ACU to a 9-of-25 (.360).
Mitchell was one of four Cardinals to finish the game in double figures. He led the way with 16 points, while Minton came off the bench to score 12 a season-high 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting. He was also a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Hilliard added 11 points. The Wildcats were led by Parker Wentz's 13 points.
The Cardinals return to action Saturday when they travel to San Antonio, Texas, to face Incarnate Word. The game against the Cardinals is slated to tip off at 4 p.m., and will be the first meeting between the two schools on the court.