Nov. 19, 2011
BEAUMONT - Senior forward Charlie Harper poured in 22 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds Saturday at the Montagne Center as Lamar University picked up an impressive 72-54 non-conference basketball victory over Charlotte.
The Cardinals put an end to a brief two-game slide to even their record at 2-2. Lamar will look for its first road win of the season Tuesday night at Tennessee-Martin in the final game of the Global Sports Invitational.
Harper's first points of the game, a jumper from the top of the key, gave Lamar a 6-4 lead that it would not relinquish the rest of the game. Senior Anthony Miles hit a 3-pointer with 11 seconds to play in the first half to give Lamar a 29-19 lead at the break.
"Defensively you hold a bigger team from a bigger conference (Atlantic 10) to 19 points at the half, that's what we're all about is the defense and the effort," said LU head coach Pat Knight. "I thought offensively we did a better job of shot selection.
"This is a great win for these kids and the program. Any time you play a bigger team from a bigger conference, which is on paper supposed to be better than you, it's always good. I think it makes you better to play teams like this."
While Lamar had a strong 52.0 percent shooting effort in the second half, it was the defensive lift that sophomore Osas Ebomwonyi gave the team off the bench that made the difference. The 6-foot-11 forward picked up a career-high six blocked shots, adding four points and eight rebounds.
"My high for blocked shots in a game is 12, but that was in high school," said Ebomwonyi. "I try to block the ball so that it stays inbounds. That makes it better for everyone. It's all in the timing. I just try to time myself. When the ball is going up, I'm ready to go up with it."
Charlotte's K.J. Sherrill hit a layup with 16:23 to play in the game to pull the 49ers to within six points at 37-31. However, Devon Lamb
, who scored all 11 of his points in the second half, answered with a 3-pointer just 20 seconds later to put Lamar back up by nine.
Brandon Davis, who struggled through a 1-for-9 shooting day, knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing to put Lamar ahead 53-42 with 7:39 to play. The 49ers would get no closer than 10 points the rest of the way as the Cardinals were able to answer every Charlotte basket with one of their own.
With Harper leading the way, Lamar hammered the bigger 49ers on the boards. Charlotte came into the game averaging 50.5 rebounds per game, but managed just 28 Saturday. The Cardinals pulled down 52 rebounds to finish with a 24-rebound advantage and just miss setting a new Montagne Center record for rebound margin (25).
Lamar's defensive effort helped hold the 49ers to a paltry 32.8 percent shooting on the day. When Charlotte did get past the LU guards, help defense was waiting to force a tough shot.
"It means a lot to have a guy like Osas back there," said Harper about Lamar's emerging defensive presence. "Everyone looks at his stats, and they think that he's a guy who's not going to do a lot offensively. As you saw today, though, he's a jumping jack back there. He blocks shots, but what's more is that he keeps them inbounds and that helps fuel the offense."
After shooting just 37.0 percent from the floor in the first half, Lamar's second half effort helped the Cards shoot a season-high 44.2 percent for the game. Lamar connected on 22-of-31 free throws, and outscored the 49ers 14-7 off turnovers.
Harper's game-high 22 points came on an 8-for-16 shooting effort. His only 3-pointer of the game may have been the dagger that closed the game. With the shot clock about to expire, Harper pulled up from well beyond the arc and knocked down the shot that put Lamar up 60-44 with five minutes to play.
Miles added 20 points for Lamar, shooting an efficient 6-of-11 from the field. The 6-foot-1 guard made his only 3-point attempt and was 7-of-9 from the free throw line. He added four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Derrio Green led the 49ers with 19 points, but was just 5-of-16 from the field. He made a game-high five treys, and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the foul line. Sherrill was the only other 49er to score in double figures, finishing with 11 points.