Nov. 19, 2012
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Lamar University couldn't find its shooting touch Monday evening at John Paul Jones Arena as the Cardinals fell 63-44 to host Virginia in third round basketball action of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
The Cardinals, who dropped to 0-4 for the first time in school history, will close out play in the NIT with a 3:30 p.m. contest this afternoon against IUPUI. It will be the first ever meeting between the two schools and the game can be heard live on KLVI 560 AM.
"We finally competed and played hard," said second-year Lamar head coach Pat Knight. "I thought we made a lot of improvement tonight. For us, conference is what is going to count. I have to make sure we continue to make improvements."
Lamar managed just 15 field goals in the game, hitting 32.6 percent of its shots. The Cards were just 7-of-23 in the first half in trailing 32-18 at the break.
Virginia's Justin Anderson hammered home an alley-oop dunk with 11:39 to play in the game to give the Cavaliers (3-2) a 51-24 lead, their largest of the game. The Cards scored the next eight points and pulled within 19 at the 9:45 mark after Stan Brown hit a pair of free throws.
Senior forward Nikko Acosta, who scored a career-high 10 points off the bench, knocked down two free throws with 4:36 to play that made it a 55-39 game. Lamar was not able to get any closer than 16 points, however.
Turnovers have plagued the Cards in the early going, but Monday saw Lamar give it up just 14 times. Unfortunately for Lamar, Virginia was able to convert those miscues into 31 points and enjoy a 21-point advantage in points off turnovers.
As has been the case all season, Lamar has been able to do a good job on the boards despite being the smaller team. UVA only outrebounded Lamar 29-28 and the two teams combined for just seven total second chance points.
The Cavaliers opened the game on a huge run that had the Cardinals playing catch up all night. Redshirt freshman Rhon Mitchell
hit a jumper that put LU ahead 2-0, but UVA answered with a 24-4 run over the ensuing nine minutes to take a 24-6 lead with 10 minutes to play in the half.
Paul Jesperson, who came into the contest averaging 3.3 points per game, knocked down his first three 3-point attempts to fuel the Cavs' run. Jesperson would not score again as he finished with nine points and five rebounds.
"The start was bad," said Knight. "We got down by so many and we really couldn't overcome it. I was just really pleased with the way we played the last 30 minutes. At times in the second half, we had three freshmen out there."
After falling behind 30-11 with 5:34 to play in the first half, LU closed with an 8-2 run. Freshman Keilan Blanks hit a 3-pointer and Mitchell followed with a jumper to make it 30-16. Darion Atkins scored with just under two minutes to play in the half, but Blanks would add a pair of free throws with two seconds on the clock to close the run.
Brown led the Cardinals with 11 points and six rebounds, adding two assists and a blocked shot. Blanks and Mitchell finished with eight points apiece.
Freshman Donnell Minton matched Brown with six boards, adding two assists and two of Lamar's six blocked shots in the game.
UVA, which shot 43.4 percent in the game from the field, got 17 points from leading scorer Joe Harris. The junior guard was 7-of-11 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from long range, adding five rebounds and three of the Cavs' nine steals.
Akil Mitchell added 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds for Virginia.