Cards win home opener 81-80 over LIU Brooklyn
Dec. 29, 2012
BEAUMONT - Lamar University basketball fans had to wait nearly two months to watch a game at the Montagne Center and the Cardinals responded in Saturday's home opener with a thrilling 81-80 victory over LIU Brooklyn to snap a six-game losing streak.
Senior forward Stan Brown scored a career-high 18 points, including the game winning basket with 16 seconds to play on a feed from Keilan Blanks to close the win. The Cardinals, who improved to 2-10 with the win, played outstanding defense to thwart a pair of LIU shot attempts.
"I have to give Donley Minor credit at the end of the game," said LU head coach Pat Knight. "He didn't have a great game but he came up big. He played great defense at the end and that's probably the biggest play of the game. That's a senior there. He didn't have a great game shooting the ball, but stepped up defensively."
Minor, who finished with just four points in the contest, defended LIU's C.J. Garner on the final shot and forced the guard into a fade away jumper as time expired.
"Overall, I have to be pleased," said Knight about getting the win. "I'm not going to get too negative with these guys. We'll show some tape on the block outs and turnovers just so they can learn, but we're just happy. This is a good team that would do well in our league so we just have to be happy."
Lamar, which led 40-31 at the half, survived a furious LIU (5-7) run over the game's final three minutes for its 11th straight win in home openers. Blanks, who scored 18 points off LU's bench, knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:45 to play to give the Cards a 75-70 lead.
Jamal Olasewere pulled LIU to within three after a pair of free throws, and Garner made it a 75-74 game with 2:15 to play on two more free throws. Blanks pushed it back to three with a jumper at the two minute mark, but LIU would score the next four points to grab its first lead of the second half.
Olasewere scored a layup and Brandon Thompson added another with 1:17 to play to put the Blackbirds up 78-77. Brennan Doty, who was making his LU debut after sitting out per NCAA transfer rules, gave Lamar the lead back at 79-78 with a pair of free throws with 57 seconds to play.
E.J. Reed, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds off the LIU bench, gave the Blackbirds an 80-79 lead with 39 seconds to play on a tip-in of a missed Thompson 3-point attempt.
Blanks, playing his first home game for the Cardinals, drove the lane and dropped off a perfect pass to Brown for what turned out to be the final basket of the game. Brown, who added six rebounds for Lamar, finished the game 8-of-10 from the floor.
The Cardinals shot an impressive 64.3 percent from the floor in the second half and finished 55.0 percent for the contest. Lamar outrebounded LIU 41-34 in the game, but the Blackbirds actually finished with a slight 15-14 edge in second chance points.
The Blackbirds jumped out to a 19-12 lead with 12:37 to play in the first half as they were able to convert several Lamar turnovers into fast break points. LIU ended the game with a 20-6 advantage in fast break points as the Cards committed 22 turnovers.
Blanks buried a 3-pointer with 8:58 to play in the first half to cap a 9-2 Lamar run and tie the game at 21-21. From that point, the Cards outscored LIU 10-3 to grab a 31-24 lead with 5:10 to play before the half.
The Blackbirds made it a four-point game with 3:30 to play on a Garner steal and layup, but Lamar outscored LIU 7-2 the rest of the way to close the first half with the nine-point lead.
After 12 first half turnovers, the Blackbirds settled down and coughed it up just six times in the second half. LIU also improved its shooting in the second half. After connecting on just 35.5 percent of its field goal attempts in the first half, the Blackbirds shot 52.8 percent in the second half.
Rhon Mitchell, who leads Lamar in scoring at 11.7 points per game, finished with 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting. The redshirt freshman added four rebounds and two assists.
Doty played an impressive 21 minutes off the bench in his first game as a Cardinal, finishing with seven points and a team-high eight rebounds. The former standout at Port Neches-Groves High School added two assists and two steals.
"I'm really pleased that he decided to come out for basketball," said Knight about Doty coming to Lamar after a year playing football at Oregon. "He's improved a lot. When we started practice this year, I knew he was a kid that would get into our rotation. He's a good addition to this team."
Olasewere and Garner each scored 15 points for the Blackbirds. Olasewere added a game-high nine rebounds, but also committed nine of the Blackbirds' 18 turnovers and was just 4-of-11 from the floor. Point guard Jason Brickman, one of six native Texans on the LIU roster, added 10 points, 11 assists and four steals.
LIU, which came in shooting 37.4 percent from 3-point range on the season, hit just 6-of-20 against the Cardinals on Saturday. The Blackbirds were also just 14-of-24 (58.3 percent) from the free throw line in the contest.
Lamar will open Southland Conference play on Thursday evening at Stephen F. Austin. The men's game is scheduled for 8 p.m. following the women's contest.