March 6, 2014
BEAUMONT, Texas -
Junior Nimrod Hilliard scored 19 points and dished out 11 assists while guiding Lamar to an impressive 89-72 victory over New Orleans Thursday night at the Montagne Center. The victory snapped a seven-game slide, and marked the first victory for interim head coach Tic Price in Beaumont.
There was plenty of scoring to go around as every Cardinal who played, except for one, scored. Lamar finished the night with four players in double figures. In addition to Hilliard junior Anthony Holliday added 18 points on a near perfect 7-of-9 (.778) from the field.
Facing the final two games of his career, senior Amos Wilson stepped on the court with added urgency. The Allen, Texas native added 17 points on 5-of-7 (.714) shooting. He also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Junior Donovan Ross filled up the stat s sheet with 12 points, five rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists.
"Our motivation is that we are tired of losing," said Hilliard. "We've been losing all season, and we're tired of it. We haven't quit, and we are not going to quit. We also want to get this done for Amos. He is leaving and we would like to send him off on a good note."
The Cardinals wasted no time in taking an early advantage. Trailing by two points, Lamar got baskets from Wilson and Hilliard to take a two-point lead with 17:42 remaining in the opening half - a lead it would not relinquish.
Sparked by one of Holliday's seven field goals on the night the Cards rattled off a 14-2 run to build a 26-12 advantage midway through the opening half. After UNO trimmed the lead to 11 points, Lamar went back on the attack outscoring the Privateers 16-4 over the next 5:49 to take a 23-point lead before UNO's James Harrison hit a three at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 20 heading into the locker room.
The Cardinals were aggressive in all phases of the game to start the contest. Lamar torched the nets knocking down 55 percent of their shots in the first 20 minutes, and outrebounding their guests by four. While the Privateers were a solid 10-of-25 (.400) from the floor to start the game, Lamar cashed in on every UNO mistake.
The Cards forced UNO into 12 turnovers which were converted into 20 points. New Orleans put Lamar on the free throw line 12 times in the first half, and Lamar connected on 10 of those attempts. Lamar also had a 13-2 advantage in second chance points, while their bench outscored UNO, 12-2.
"We came out with great intensity tonight," said head coach Tic Price. "I thought we did a very good job of forcing turnovers tonight. Our rotation in our pressure defense was very good. Everyone was engaged in the game. Any time you can convert turnovers into points it helps. We also got some great minutes from our bench tonight. I thought we were able to sustain our energy for 40 minutes."
It was more of the same in the second half as Lamar built its lead to 27 points less than four minutes into the half. The Privateers found some life after facing the largest deficit for a Lamar opponent this season. UNO began chipping away at the Cardinals' lead, and cut the deficit to 12 points behind a 16-of-28 (.571) second half performance and Harrison's team-high 17 points.
The 12-point gap would be as close as UNO would get to a rally as freshman Preston Mattingly converted an and-one on the very next possession to get the lead back to 15. Mattingly tied a career high with his eight points, and pulled down a career-high six rebounds. Following Mattingly's three-point play, the Cardinals pushed the lead back to 20 points and melted the clock away for their fourth win of the season.
Lamar finished the game shooting 54 percent from the field, and knocked down 22-of-27 (.815) attempts from the free throw line. The Cards forced UNO into 20 turnovers on the night, which Lamar converted into 33 points on the other end.
The Cardinals return to action Saturday when they close out the season against Southeastern Louisiana. The game against the Lions will tip off 30 minutes following the conclusion of the women's game and will start no earlier than 6 p.m.