March 9, 2013
HAMMOND, La. - Five Cardinals scored in double-figures Saturday afternoon at the University Center, led by senior Donley Minor's 18 points, but it did not keep Lamar University from falling 86-72 to host Southeastern Louisiana in the final Southland Conference basketball game of the regular season.
Unfortunately for the defending Southland Tournament champion Cardinals, this is where the season will end. Lamar fell to 3-28 overall and 1-17 in league action and will not earn one of the eight berths in next week's conference tournament from the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.
"The kids played hard," said LU head coach Pat Knight, who led the Cardinals to the 2012 NCAA Tournament in his first year. "I can't be upset about the effort, but we just weren't good enough to pull it out in the end. They didn't quit and that's all I can ask.
"The season wasn't good, but the good thing is we can start getting ready for next season right away. We're going to work hard. We've got good pieces in place, a good base. We'll bring in some good players on top of them. This was a rebuilding year and I look forward to a team next year that everybody at Lamar can be proud of."
Lamar fell behind by as many as 19 points in the second half but as it has done so many times, the team rallied. Down 69-50 with 7:23 to play, Lamar responded with an 18-6 run to pull within seven points. A Stan Brown three-point play made the score 75-68 with 2:08 on the clock.
SLU's Brandon Fortenberry, who led everyone with 26 points, drilled a contested 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down on the ensuing possession to push the Lions' lead back to 10 at 78-68. Brown would then make 1-of-2 from the foul line to cut the deficit to nine, but that's as close as the Cards would get.
The Lions (12-17 overall, 10-8 in the Southland) outrebounded Lamar 39-32, including grabbing 12 offensive rebounds for a 16-3 edge in second chance points. SLU committed just 10 turnovers on the night and made 23-of-30 from the free throw line.
Lamar hit a season-high seven 3-pointers, getting four from Minor and three from freshman Keilan Blanks
. The Cards were 21-of-29 from the foul line, and finished the season with solid 70.3 percent free throw shooting.
The Lions were able to build a 35-28 halftime lead thanks to second chance points and points off turnovers. SLU pulled down seven offensive rebounds in the first half and enjoyed an 11-1 edge in second chance points, while the Lions also scored 10 points off LU's nine first half turnovers. The Cards settled down and finished the game with just 14 turnovers.
After falling behind 16-8 nine minutes into the game on a Todd Nelson 3-pointer, Lamar battled back and took a 20-18 lead with just over eight minutes to play. The Cards scored eight straight points on a pair of Minor treys and two Hondo Webb free throws.
Dre Evans answered with a 3-pointer to stop the run and SLU did not relinquish the lead the rest of the half. The Lions closed the half on a 12-6 run, capped by an Onochie Ochie jumper with 34 seconds left that proved to be the final points of the half.
Minor finished 7-of-16 from the floor in his final collegiate game, including 4-of-8 aim from the 3-point line. He would add three rebounds and a pair of assists.
Brown closed out his college career with 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds. The 6-foot-8 forward led Lamar with season averages of 11.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Donnell Minton added 12 points for Lamar, while Blanks finished with 11 and Webb scored 10. Webb was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line on the night and also chipped in with three rebounds and two assists.
Jeffery Ricard posted 16 points and a team-high seven boards for the Lions who finished the regular season fourth in the conference standings. Dre Evans scored 10 points, handed out six assists and picked up two of SLU's four steals in the contest.