Feb. 29, 2012
SAN MARCOS - Senior guard Anthony Miles led all players with 25 points Wednesday night at Strahan Coliseum, and Devon Lamb and Charlie Harper each added double-doubles, as Lamar University rolled to an 81-65 Southland Conference basketball win over Texas State.
The win, coupled with McNeese State's 64-57 loss at Southeastern Louisiana, keeps the Cardinals alive for the East Division crown. At 19-11 on the year, Lamar is also just one win away from its first 20-win season since 1988 as the Cards close the season at home Saturday afternoon at 3:30 against the Cowboys.
Lamar played inspired basketball from the opening tip, leading the game wire-to-wire to improve to 10-5 in conference games. Brandon Davis opened the scoring with a floater in the lane. Texas State's (13-16 overall, 5-10 in SLC games) Travis Jones tied the game less than a minute later, but that would be the only tie of the night.
"The effort was great," said LU head coach Pat Knight. "Ours seniors have been unbelievable the last two games and really for most of the season. We go as they go, and especially with Miles who has been unbelievable the last two games."
"Hopefully we can carry this on to Saturday. These kids want to win. I'm proud of them and our fans should be proud of them, but we've still got one left."
Stan Brown scored a layup with 16:52 to play in the first half that put Lamar ahead for good at 4-2. A Mike James 3-pointer with 6:52 on the first half clock gave Lamar its first double-digit lead at 30-20.
The Cards' biggest first half lead, and the most exciting play of the game, came with three seconds to play as Lamb slammed home a backdoor alley-oop from Miles to send the Cardinals into the half with a 44-27 lead. Lamar finished the first half on a 6-0 run over the final 2:41.
"We've had two great plays the last two games to end the half," said Knight. "Lamb usually jumps that high for rebounds, but not for layups."
Lamar's lead grew to 20 points early in the second half as James knocked down a 3-pointer and the ensuing free throw after being fouled by John Bowman to make the score 51-31. However, the Bobcats went on a 16-4 run over the next 4:18 to get within eight points at 55-47.
Behind strong second half free throw shooting, Lamar responded with a 9-2 run of its own to push its lead to 64-49 with 9:38 on the clock. The Bobcats would get no closer than 12 the rest of the way as Lamar hit 22 of its 26 free throws in the second half.
Lamb and Harper controlled the boards for the Cardinals as Lamar enjoyed a 46-37 rebound advantage in the game. In addition to 18 points, Lamb grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds for his team-leading 10th double-double of the year. Harper added 11 points and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes off the LU bench.
Texas State came into the game as the top scoring team in the Southland Conference at 77.4 points per game, including 85 points per game at home. Lamar was able to limit the Bobcats to just 36.4 percent shooting from the floor which included 5-of-23 aim from 3-point range.
Miles was exceptional for the Cardinals, picking up much of the scoring load after James fouled out with 15 points and 10:35 to play in the game. In addition to his 25 points, Miles added eight rebounds and matched a season-high with eight assists. He was 9-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Lamar shot 55.6 percent from the field in the first half and 43.5 percent for the game. The Cards were also 5-of-12 from 3-point range and committed just 10 turnovers.
Matt Staff led the Bobcats with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but LU's Osas Ebomwonyi sent a message late in the game with a huge blocked shot on a Staff dunk attempt. Bowman and Jones each added 13 points for the Bobcats.
Former Lamar walk-on Brooks Ybarra came into the game averaging a team-leading 13.3 points per game for Texas State, but was held scoreless in just eight minutes of playing time.