Nov. 20, 2012
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Freshman Donnell Minton hit six free throws in the final minute, and senior Donley Minor scored a career-high 22 points, leading Lamar University to an 86-82 non-conference basketball win over IUPUI in the consolation round of the NIT Season Tip-Off from Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena.
With the Cardinals holding on to a three point lead, Minton calmly stepped to the free throw line and knocked down a pair of free throws with 32 seconds to play to push the LU lead back to 82-77. The Jaguars' Mitchell Patton hit a hook shot to pull IUPUI back to within three with 20 seconds on the clock.
Lamar inbounded to Minton and the freshman knocked two more down to make it 84-79 with 19 seconds. John Hart, who finished with 20 points for IUPUI, hit a 3-pointer to make it a two point game with 13 seconds to play.
LU redshirt freshman Rhon Mitchell was then fouled, but couldn't hit the front end of the one-and-one and IUPUI had a chance to tie the game. The Jaguars' Greg Rice drove into the lane but couldn't get his shot to fall. Minton grabbed the board and was fouled, hitting his final two free throws with 1.2 showing on the clock to ice Lamar's first win of the year.
The Cardinals, who will play at rival Arkansas State on Sunday afternoon at 2:05 p.m., improved to 1-4 on the season. Lamar finished 1-3 in its second ever trip to the NIT Season Tip-Off. IUPUI fell to 2-4 with the loss.
"I thought it was big for us because we had three freshmen in at the end," said second-year LU head coach Pat Knight about picking up the win. "You practice that stuff, but it doesn't mean anything in practice so for these kids to step up like this and win is big.
"It wasn't perfect, but we were able to win and that's the best way for them to learn. Sometimes it's almost better to win a close game than a win by a lot of points to get their confidence and the momentum going. I was really proud, not just of the freshmen, but of the way the whole team played."
While it was Minton who hit the big free throws late, it was Minor who helped keep the Cardinals in the contest with a big shooting night. The guard knocked down 10 of his 19 field goal attempts, adding four rebounds and two assists.
Lamar did not have a lead in the first half, trailing 39-37 at the break. The Cards' first lead came on a Minor jumper with 15:09 to play that made it 47-46. IUPUI responded with an 8-1 run to pull ahead by six with 12:36 to go in the game.
Freshman Keilan Blanks stopped the run with a layup that triggered a 7-0 Lamar run and gave the Cardinals a 55-54 lead with 11:11 to play. Mitchell added a jumper and Minor hit his only 3-pointer of the game to close the run.
The Jaguars then got hot and went up by nine points with 5:24 to play on a dunk by Donovan Gibbs that made it 72-63 in favor of IUPUI. Minor scored on a breakaway layup with 2:32 to play that capped a 13-2 LU run and gave the Cards the lead for good at 76-74.
Lamar shot 54.5 percent from the floor in the second half, including 4-of-7 aim from 3-point range. The Cards hammered IUPUI on the boards with a 37-28 edge and had a 14-4 advantage in second chance points as the Cardinals grabbed 16 offensive rebounds.
After averaging nearly 24 turnovers per game through the first three contests of the year, Lamar committed just 14 against host Virginia on Monday and a season-low 13 against the Jaguars on Tuesday. In fact, the Cards enjoyed a 20-13 advantage in points off turnovers in Tuesday's contest.
The Cardinals trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half as IUPUI opened the game with a 14-2 run over the first four and a half minutes. Minton had the Cards' first bucket before Amos Wilson scored with 15:09 to play in the half to make the score 14-4.
LU continued to battle back in the first half and Wilson scored with 8:21 to play to pull Lamar within one at 24-23. The Cards finally tied the game at 33 with 3:21 to play on a Minor jumper, but could not pull ahead in the first half.
IUPUI, which shot 55.0 percent from the floor in the game and 5-of-11 from 3-point range, scored the final bucket of the half to break a 37-37 tie.
Wilson got off to a huge start for the Cardinals, registering 10 points and eight rebounds in the first half. The junior transfer would leave early in the second half with an injury and did not add to those totals.
Mitchell led the Cardinals with nine rebounds, including five off the offensive glass. Mitchell was one of three Cardinals to score 10 points in the game, joining Wilson and Minton.
Senior forward Stan Brown added 12 points for Lamar, while Blanks came off the LU bench to record 12 points and six assists.
Patton shot 11-of-14 from the floor in the game to score 27 points for the Jaguars. Forward Donovan Gibbs added eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds.