Feb. 22, 2007
BEAUMONT - Junior Darren Hopkins hit a driving layup and converted the free throw with 6.9 seconds left in the game that put Lamar University up 78-77 and Lamar Sanders deflected Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's inbounds pass with 2.3 seconds remaining to give the Cardinals an upset win over the Islanders Thursday night in Southland Conference men's basketball action at the Montagne Center.
Lamar, who is riding a season-high three-game winning streak, improved to 12-14 overall and 6-6 in SLC play. TAMU-CC dropped to 20-6 overall and 11-2 in SLC play. The Cardinals host McNeese State Saturday at 8:05 p.m. in a game that is being televised before a six-state regional audience on Fox Sports Net-Southwest.
The Cardinals need a win to keep pace in the SLC East Division standings. McNeese posted a 63-57 home win over Texas-San Antonio to remain in third place with a 7-6 mark. Nicholls State won at Northwestern State, 93-92, to remain a half-game behind Lamar at 6-7. The Demons dropped into a first-place tie with Southeastern Louisiana, who posted a 66-63 home win over Central Arkansas, at 8-5.
Trailing by 12 points, 67-55, with 7:36 remaining in the game, Lamar went on a 7-0 run to trim the lead to five, 67-62. James Davis and Currye Todd each hit a layup, and Hopkins nailed a three-pointer. The Cardinals completed the comeback when Davis hit a layup and free throw at 1:39 that gave the Cardinals a 74-72 lead.
Cedric Smith tied the game at 74-74 with a pair of free throws at 1:27. After Todd misfired on a 3-pointer, Chris Daniels hit a spinning layup and was fouled by Davis, which was his fifth, with 38 seconds left. Daniels missed the free throw, giving the Islanders a 77-75 lead.
That set up Hopkins' heroics. Dribbling the ball just past the top of the key, Hopkins made his move by driving around Dominique Taylor with 10 seconds left on the clock. He drove all the way to the basket, was fouled by Taurean Mitchell, who was trying to take a charge, and made the layup with 6.9 seconds left. He made the free throw to give the Cardinals the final margin of victory.
"That's a play we run all the time in practice," said Lamar coach Steve Roccaforte
. "I was just glad he was able to make the basket and free throw. The play is designed for him to drive to the basket, but if he gets cut off, he can pass to the wing for a three-pointer.
"This was just a great win for us. Our guys never quite and played their hearts out. We beat a very good basketball team tonight."
Hopkins was 7-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line in tying his career-high with 26 points. He also had four assists and two steals. Davis came off the bench to score 18 points and grab five rebounds.
Brandon Chappell and Todd each added 11 points. Todd also grabbed a season-high eight rebounds. Sanders sustained a cut over his right eye early in the second half while scrambling for a rebound under the Islanders basket. He played only five minutes in the second half, but made a huge deflection in the final seconds to preserve the win. He grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, scored seven points, dished out two assists and had two steals.
Lamar shot 46.7 percent (28-of-60) from the field, 38.5 percent (10-of-26) from 3-point range and 80 percent (12-of-15) from the free throw line. The Cardinals shot 52.9 percent (18-of-34) from the field in the second half, including 50 percent (7-of-14) from 3-point range.
Daniels led TAMU-CC with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field. Scooby Johnson added 15 points and five rebounds. Cedric Smith scored 14 points off the bench. Josh Ervin dished out 10 assists.
TAMU-CC shot 50.9 percent (29-of-57) from the field, 50 percent (5-of-10) from 3-point range and 70 percent (14-of-20) from the free throw line. The Islanders outrebounded Lamar 35 to 31, and outscored the Cardinals 42-34 in points in the paint.