Strong second half fuels 80-66 win over UTSA
Feb. 4, 2012
BEAUMONT - Senior guard Brandon Davis scored 21 of his game-high 23 points in the second half Saturday afternoon at the Montagne Center as Lamar University pulled away from visiting UTSA for an 80-66 Southland Conference basketball victory.
Davis missed all eight of his field goal attempts in the first half, including an 0-for-6 effort from 3-point range, as the Cardinals settled for a 27-27 tie at the half. He then went 7-of-10 from the floor in the second half, making 5-of-7 from 3-point range as he played a career-high 39 minutes.
Lamar, which will host Northwestern State on Wednesday night at 7, won for the third straight game to improve to 15-8 on the year. More importantly, Lamar is now 6-3 on the year in Southland play which is the same league record that UTSA (14-9) now has after losing for the second straight game.
"We wanted this game," said LU head coach Pat Knight. "I got on them pretty hard after the UT Arlington game (a 91-82 loss) and we stressed all week that now you have a shot against another one of the best teams. I think the seniors really wanted to get a win against one of the better teams."
Davis scored Lamar's first eight points of the second half to fuel a 10-4 run that put the Cards ahead 37-31 with 17:43 to play. The Roadrunners pulled to within three points on three separate occasions in the second half, but could get no closer.
"We let our game against UTA slip away from us in the second half, and we didn't want that same thing to happen today," said Davis. "We decided to pick up the pace in the second half and to take advantage of every break that came our way."
It was Davis' last 3-pointer of the day that gave Lamar its first double-digit lead of the game. Taking a pass from Anthony Miles on the right wing, Davis knocked down the shot to give Lamar a 61-49 advantage with 8:32 to play in the game.
The Cardinals, who shot 65.4 percent from the floor in the second half, would put a lock on the game from that point. UTSA got within nine points at the 5:11 mark on a Kannon Burrage layup that made the score 67-58, but Lamar responded with a 10-2 run that pushed its lead up to a game-high 18 points with just 1:17 left.
As strong as Davis was in the second half, Devon Lamb may have played just as well in the first half. The 6-foot-2 guard recorded his team-best sixth double-double with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, but he had 11 points and five boards at the half. He also picked up all four of his steals in the first half, twice taking them in for uncontested layups.
"This was our best game of the season, no question," said Lamb who was 6-of-9 from the floor. "Like Coach Knight says, it starts on defense. I was playing the passing lanes and trying to get as many steals and rebounds as I could."
Lamar's biggest lead in the first half came at the 12:48 mark as Nikko Acosta threw down a dunk on a nice feed from Mike James that made the score 15-9. UTSA regained the lead just over three minutes later, though, as Stephen Franklin capped a 9-2 run with a trey that put the Runners up 18-17.
UTSA scored the final five points of the first half on a pair of Sei Paye free throws and a Jeromie Hill 3-pointer.
Lamar hammered UTSA on the boards, outrebounding the visitors 35-25, including grabbing 11 offensive rebounds which led to a 14-2 advantage in second chance points. The Cards also enjoyed a 23-15 advantage in points off turnovers.
UTSA was as advertised shooting the ball, as the conference's best shooting team hit 55.6 percent of its shots in the second half and was a sparkling 10-of-20 from 3-point range. However, the Cards' ability to get to the free throw line may have been the difference in the game.
UTSA was a solid 8-of-10 from the foul line, but Lamar managed to make 25 trips to the charity stripe and knock down 19.
Miles had a big game for the Cardinals as he finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and a game-high six assists. Most impressive is that Miles scored his 18 points on just eight field goal attempts as he made five and added an 8-of-11 performance from the free throw line.
James, who came in averaging a team-best 16.3 points per game, scored 14 second half points to finish with 16 in the game.
Hill led the Roadrunners with 18 points, also recording all three of UTSA's blocked shots. Melvin Johnson III added 15 points, while Burrage came off the bench to finish with 13.