Nov. 13, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Donnell Minton came off the Lamar bench to score 15 points Tuesday evening at Bramlage Coliseum, and two other Cardinals scored in double-figures, but it was not enough as the men's basketball team fell 74-59 to North Texas at the NIT Season Tip-Off.
The Cardinals and Mean Green were meeting in the consolation game of the Midwest Region and will learn where they will play their third- and fourth-round games Wednesday.
After trailing by six points at the half, and by as many as 13 early in the second half, Lamar put together a solid run to get back in the game. Rhon Mitchell, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds, hit a layup to cap an 11-2 Lamar run that made it a 45-41 game with 14:49 to play.
NT (1-2) would score the next 12 points, however, to pull ahead 57-41 and never let its lead dip below 11 points the rest of the way. As they did in Monday's 79-55 loss to host Kansas State, turnovers once again plagued the Cardinals on Tuesday.
"We'll fight in minutes but it's just too many spurts," said second-year Lamar head coach Pat Knight. "We're just too inexperienced right now. I've got to be careful, as a coach, to keep doing a better job of teaching them and coaching them. It's a marathon of a year.
"We have to look at what we did well and make sure we keep our confidence going because it's only the first two games of the season. I really believe by conference time, we'll be a totally different team. I think we're a better team than when we got here even if the record doesn't show it."
Lamar coughed the ball up 23 times which the Mean Green converted into 24 points. The Cardinals, who fell to 0-2 on the year and will travel to Charlotte for a contest Saturday evening, committed 49 turnovers in the two games this week.
After shooting a healthy 48.1 percent from the floor in the first half, the Cardinals managed to hit just 36.4 percent of their shots in the second half. Combined with 1-of-6 aim from 3-point range, the Cardinals were not able to stay with the more experienced Mean Green.
After a Keith Coleman dunk with 17:15 to play in the first half gave NT an 11-6 lead, Knight called a timeout to rally his troops. The young Cardinals responded and scored the next eight points to lead 14-11 with 13:20 to play in the first half.
The two teams would stay close throughout the opening half of play before the Mean Green went on a 9-0 run late to pull ahead 36-28 with 19 seconds to play. Minton, who scored 12 of his points in the first half, buried a pull-up jumper with seven seconds left in the half to make it a 36-30 game.
Point guard Chris Jones scored five quick points to open the second half, with a dunk by Jordan Williams sandwiched in between, to give NT its first double-figure lead of the contest.
NT shot 48.4 percent from the field in the second half to put the game away. The Mean Green, who picked up 19 assists on their 29 field goals, committed just 15 turnovers in the game to give head coach Tony Benford his first collegiate coaching victory.
In addition to his 15 points, Minton added five rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal off the LU bench in 37 minutes of work. Minton played just 14 minutes against K-State but did hand out five assists in that contest.
Senior guard Donley Minor, who led Lamar with 17 points on Monday, finished with 10 points, four boards and three assists. Minor had the Cardinals' only 3-point basket of the evening, but also committed seven turnovers in the game.
Senior forward Stan Brown led the Cardinals with seven rebounds.
Preseason Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Tony Mitchell lived up to the billing, leading the Mean Green with 18 points and 10 rebounds. The preseason All-America also had three steals and a pair of blocked shots in 28 minutes of work.
Alzee Williams, who came in averaging just 5.5 points per game through the first two contests, added 17 points and five boards, while Jones finished with 15 points and seven assists.