Jan. 30, 2014
BEAUMONT, Texas -
Junior Nimrod Hilliard scored 14 points in Lamar's two-point victory over Houston Baptist (4-17/1-8 SLC) Thursday night at the Montagne Center, but it was points 12 and 13 for Hilliard that turned out to be the most important. With the game tied Hilliard drove in the lane, hung in the air and buried a seven-footer for the win.
The victory, Lamar's second in its last three games, moves the Cardinals to 3-18 on the season and 2-7 in Southland Conference play.
"It is good to win at home," said head coach Pat Knight. "We have a good fan base that comes to every game, to go along with our band that is always here supporting us and a great turnout from our students which provided us with a great atmosphere. Everyone goes through seasons where things don't go your way, so I was very happy to see these kids continue to fight and get a win at home."
Junior Anthony Hilliard also scored a career-high 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting as the Cardinals opened the game with some aggressive play. Lamar jumped out to an early eight point lead behind some hot shooting in the first half. The Cardinals opened the game 15-of-29 (.517) from the field and although HBU would battle back to tie the game twice before halftime Lamar would never surrender the lead.
After HBU battled back to tie the game at 21 with 8:31 remaining, Lamar went to work on the glass to take back control of the game. The Cardinals outgained HBU, 23-13, on the boards in the opening half and used that rebounding advantage to rattle off a 14-5 run over the next 4:26 of the game. The Cards didn't take their foot off the pedal taking a 12-point lead into the locker room, 40-28.
Lamar did the majority of its damage in the paint outscoring the Huskies, 22-8, in the lane. The Cards also doubled up HBU in second chance points outscoring their guests, 13-6, in points in the paint.
At start of the second half it appeared the two squads had switched uniforms as HBU cut the deficit down to five points, 42-37, just four minutes into the half. Although HBU kept chipping away at the lead, Lamar made its halftime advantage stand until less than four minutes remaining in the game when the Huskies' Jimmy Barton hit a layup to give his team its first lead since the 17:36 mark of the opening half.
The excitement was short lived for the Huskies as Hilliard answered with a layup 40 seconds later to reclaim a one-point advantage, 54-53. The Cardinals pushed their advantage to three points before HBU's Mike Turner hit a three-pointer to tie the game with less than a minute remaining, and set up Hilliard's heroics.
Following Hilliards floater to give Lamar the final lead of the game, the Huskies had one final crack at the basket. HBU's Rob Lewis drove the lane and had his layup roll off the rim, but drew a foul. After going 1-of-2 from the line Lamar inbounded the ball to Hilliard who tacked on the game's final point from the free throw line.
Despite hitting only seven field goals in the second half, Lamar finished the game 22-of-54 (.407) from the field, and outshot their opponents (20-of-53/.377). The Huskies were able to hang around in the second half due to their advantage on the glass. After being outrebounded by 10 to start the game, HBU outrebounded Lamar, 27-13, in the final 20 minutes.
"We all played well tonight as a team," said Hilliard. "Winning as a team is the best feeling in the world. We played good defense, and got the stops when we needed to. This was a great win for the crowd. We got a win for them tonight, and they deserve it."
"When you have the crowd behind you it just gives you a great sense of confidence," added Holliday. "It really feels like you have a sixth man on the court with you. That was huge for us tonight, because I felt like there were times where we fell apart but the crowd really picked us up when we needed it. They gave us energy at times and we came away with the win."
Both senior Amos Wilson and junior Donovan Ross just missed double-doubles with identical stat lines. The duo ended the game with nine points and eight rebounds. Junior Octavius Green came off the bench to add six points and pull down five rebounds.
Lamar returns to action Saturday to host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The game against the Islanders will tip off 30 minutes after the conclusion of the women's game, but will start no earlier than 6 p.m. from the Montagne Center. It will also be televised on ESPN3.