Feb. 28, 2013
BEAUMONT - Facing a must-win situation Thursday night, the Lamar men's basketball team battled for 50 minutes before succumbing to visiting Central Arkansas 106-99 in a double overtime thriller that eliminated the Cardinals from qualifying for the Southland Conference Tournament.
The loss drops Lamar to 3-25 overall and 1-14 in league play. The Bears, who improved to 11-16 on the year and 5-11 in the conference, now hold a four game lead on the Cardinals for the eighth and final spot in the Southland Tournament. With just three games remaining, Lamar will not be able to go to Katy (site of the tournament) to defend its 2012 title.
"I'm proud of the guys from an effort standpoint, but that only gets you so far," said LU head coach Pat Knight who led Lamar to its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago. "We just made costly mistakes that cost us the game.
"I'm happy for the kids, they haven't given up. They fought hard. From a coaching standpoint, you can't make the mistakes at the end of the game that we did that cost us the game. We have guys that really haven't been in the crunch time situation and I think they get a little too excited and kind of lose it mentally."
The Cardinals came back from 13 points down in the second half and were clinging to a 2-point lead in regulation when LaQuentin Miles hit a short jumper in the lane with 11 seconds to play to tie the game at 75. Donley Minor had a look for the Cardinals with six seconds on the clock but couldn't convert.
It was Miles again who saved the day for UCA in the first overtime. Lamar's Rhon Mitchell, who finished with a career-high 25 points, hit 1-of-2 free throws with 19 seconds to play in the first overtime to give the Cards a 90-88 advantage.
After a missed layup by Anthony Borden with just seven seconds to play, Stan Brown also made just 1-of-2 for the Cards with 3.7 seconds showing on the clock. Down 91-88, UCA threw a three-quarter court pass to Ryan Williams who quickly passed to Miles. The junior guard lined up the 3-pointer and buried it as time expired to force a second overtime at 91 apiece.
The Cardinals finally ran out of gas in the second extra session. UCA scored the first five points to open a 96-91 lead and Lamar never got closer than three again. Miles, who finished with 19 points after scoring just two in the first half, gave UCA a 104-95 lead with 52 seconds to play as he hit a layup, was fouled and made the free throw.
Freshman Donnell Minton scored a layup with 17 seconds left to get Lamar within six at 105-99, but that was as close as it would get. Jarvis Garner, who had 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, knocked down 1-of-2 free throws at the 15-second mark to close the scoring.
As in the first meeting this year, an 88-59 UCA win in Conway, the Bears were able to hurt the Cardinals with outside shooting. Led by Robert Crawford's deadly shooting, UCA finished 11-of-21 from 3-point range while the Cardinals were 0-of-5.
Crawford, who led all scorers with 30 points, knocked down seven of his nine attempts from beyond the arc. The biggest came late in regulation as Lamar led 74-69 with less than 30 seconds to play. Crawford drilled a corner trey and was fouled by Minor. He would add the free throw to pull the Bears to within one at 74-73.
Lamar led by as many as eight points in the first half before UCA closed on a 12-2 run over the final four minutes to take a 37-35 lead into the break. The Bears then scored the first 11 points of the second half and were up 48-35.
Lamar chipped away and eventually tied the game at 64 with 5:07 to play on an Amos Wilson jumper. Wilson, who finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, hit another jumper at the 1:46 mark to give Lamar its first lead of the second half by a 70-69 score.
The Cardinals would finish the game shooting 43.9 percent from the floor and outscored UCA 58-40 in the paint. Lamar was a solid 27-of-38 from the free throw line, but made just 8-of-14 in the two overtime periods.
For the second time this season, six Cardinals scored in double figures. In addition to the big games by Mitchell and Wilson, senior forward Stan Brown registered 17 points and 13 rebounds for his second straight double-double. Brown added three of LU's six blocked shots in the penultimate home game of his career.
Minor registered 12 points, seven assists and three steals, while Minton and Acosta scored 10 points each.
Lamar will return to action Saturday night for its final home game of the 2012-13 season when Oral Roberts visits. The Cardinals will recognize seniors Brown, Minor and Acosta before the 6 p.m. game and a "Standing Ovation" for Jimmy and Susan Simmons will be held at halftime of the contest to honor Lamar's outgoing president.