Lamar can't overcome big first half by Nicholls
THIBODAUX, La. - A 19-0 run midway through the first half provided Nicholls all the cushion it would need to pick up a 90-63 Southland Conference men's basketball victory over visiting Lamar University on Thursday evening.
The Cardinals, 3-27 overall and 1-16 in the Southland, trailed just 18-17 after a pair of Stan Brown free throws at the 11:56 mark. Nicholls held Lamar scoreless for nearly seven minutes before a Nikko Acosta dunk made the score 37-19 with five minutes to play in the first half.
"We started out pretty good the first eight minutes and then we just quit doing what we were supposed to do offensively and defensively," said LU head coach Pat Knight. "We turned it over again and it just got worse for us.
"I don't think we quit, but we quit playing defense and then as it started getting bad, it got worse and worse and ended up being a bad first half. Instead of getting made and fighting back, we kind of give up for a little bit. We're going to have to get tougher and that's something we'll have to work on in the spring."
Nicholls (9-19 overall, 8-9 in the Southland) quickly found its shooting touch to open the game. The Colonels shot nearly 60 percent from the floor in the first half and were 5-of-9 from 3-point range in building a 47-21 halftime lead. Lamar was 9-of-20 from the floor in the first half and committed 16 turnovers which NSU turned into 18 first half points.
Fred Hunter, the Southland's leading scorer at 19.2 points per game, scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the first half. Junior guard Dantrell Thomas, who finished with 21 points, scored all nine of his first half points during the 19-0 run.
Lamar, which has now trailed at the half 27 times this season, was not able to cut into the Colonels' advantage. The Cards hit just five of their first 16 shots to open the second half, while NSU made good on 10 of its first 16.
After trailing by as many as 37 points in the second half, the Cards closed the game on a 17-7 run that was much too little, too late. The Cardinals shot a respectable 45.7 percent from the floor in the second half and limited their turnovers to just four over the final 20 minutes.
Four of the Colonels' five starters scored in double-figures as NSU punished the Cardinals inside, outscoring Lamar 56-36 in the paint. The Colonels outscored Lamar 27-6 off turnovers and held an 18-6 advantage in fast break points. NSU shot 58.1 percent for the game for the highest percentage by a Lamar opponent this season.
As has been the norm lately, Lamar was outstanding from the free throw line. After hitting all three of their attempts in the first half, the Cards were 9-of-10 in the second half for 92.3 percent shooting on the night. LU also outrebounded NSU 31-28.
Redshirt freshman Rhon Mitchell was 7-of-14 from the floor on his way to a team-high 15 points for the Cards. Minor added 14 points and three assists, while Brown finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Sophomore guard Hondo Webb played 16 minutes off the LU bench and finished with 10 points and a game- and career-high nine rebounds. Freshman Matt Hancock, who got the start in place of Amos Wilson, hit Lamar's only 3-pointer and scored a personal-best seven points.
In addition to big nights from Hunter and Thomas, NSU got 16 points from JaMarkus Horace on 8-of-11 aim and 14 points from T.J. Carpenter. Carpenter did most of his damage from long-range, hitting four of NSU's seven triples.
Lamar will close the 2012-13 season at Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the game can be heard live on KLVI 560 AM.