Davis carries Cards down stretch

Published 4:30 pm Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lamar sports information
DOVER, Del. — Lincoln Davis’ late-game stretch proved huge in calming a second-half surge from Delaware State to lock up a 77-66 Lamar men’s basketball win in non-conference action at Memorial Hall Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinals (2-1) had to hold off DSU (0-4) during in the second half, but Dontavious Sears came up with the big shot that helped Lamar hold on. Down 59-50 with 5:42 to play, the Hornets cut the lead to just six with 5:25 to play, the closest they had been since there was 5:50 to play in the first half, when Sears busted a three-pointer on an assist from Davis.
DSU was able to get it down to six again with just under 2 minutes to play, and from that point it turned into the Lincoln Davis show. After Devin Morgan’s layup fell through to make it 66-60, Davis took to the free throw line and hit two for a 68-60 advantage, and soon after he drained a jump shot to push it back out to 70-60.
After two good free throws from DSU and one from Nick Garth, Todd Hughes had a layup fall through before Davis was immediately fouled again and scored both free throws. He dropped two more free throws to end the game to finish with seven points in the final 1½ minutes.
Davis ended the game with 18 points, tied for the game lead with freshman Garth, and Sears (10) rounded out the Cardinals’ double-figure scorers.
“Nick Garth hit some big shots for us as well as Lincoln Davis,” said head coach Tic Price. “Dontavious Sears came in off the bench and hit a couple of big ones for us too.”
Davis was also one assist away from a double-double on a team-leading nine assists in the game; he had only one turnover and four steals in the game.
Despite being outshot (45 percent to 32 percent) and outscored 43-36 in the second half, LU was still able to hold off the Hornets, thanks in large part to free throws and three-pointers. In the second half alone, LU was 3 of 7 from beyond the arc and 17 of 22 at the charity stripe.
“We knew they would try to comeback in the second half because the fell behind in the last two games they played and finished close late. We felt like we needed was stay poised. On the road you cannot panic in that situation,” said Price. “We continued to execute even though we would have liked to what we call ‘killing a fly with a sledgehammer.’ We didn’t finish off the defense with a rebound. I thought that if we could’ve held them to just one rebound we would have locked the game up early in the second half. Give DSU a lot of credit, they played hard, but today we played harder.”
DSU had seven offensive boards in the second half.
One reason the Cardinals were able to hold off the second-half rush was the huge 18-point lead LU held at halftime, mainly on the backs of a few runs.
After an old-fashioned three-point play gave the Hornets a 3-2 lead, the Cardinals stretched an early lead with a nine-point run and grab an 11-3 lead. A fastbreak layup by Davis got the lead back to Lamar at 4-3, and Garth drained a big 3-pointer that made it 7-3. The final four points came on layups from Davis and freshman Dorian Chatman.
Davis was also the flashed his range with a 3-pointer that pushed the Cardinal lead to double digits for the first time at 29-19. Marcus Owens found the junior transfer open on the wing for the assist.
Sears had a big series in the back part of the half when he missed a three-pointer, but immediately intercepted a pass at the half court line and led Chatman for an easy basket; Chatman was fouled and sent to the free throw line. He made the first and missed the second, but Sears was there to grab the offensive board for another Lamar bucket. On the ensuing LU possession he was there for a fast-break layup assist.
Big Red finished the half on 9-2 run. Freshman Josh Nzeakor started that rally with a fastbreak layup on an assist from Davis that made it 34-21, and quickly made it 36-21 this time on an assist Preston Mattingly.
After a DSU free throw, Boaz Williams entered the game, went straight for the right wing and drained a 3-point basket from Davis and Zjori Bosha closed it for LU with a steal and score right before the final point of the half came on another DSU free throw.
“We knew they were going to play a 2-3 zone because in the last two games they had, so we prepared for it. We put some shooters on the perimeter and knock down some shots,” said Price. “It was important for us to execute our offense, and we knew if we could make the extra pass we could get an open look. We were able to do that in the first half.”
Chatman led the Cardinals with seven rebounds, followed by Nzeakor’s five. As a team the LU had 42 rebounds, six better than the 36 from the Hornets.
Big Red shot 45 percent from the field (23-51) and 42 percent from 3-point land (8-19). It bested DSU’s 37 and 29 percent, respectively. DSU was led in points by DeVaughn Mallory and Joseph Lewis, who each had 13 points apiece.
Lamar continues non-conference play on the road at nearby Rice on Wednesday at 7:00 in the Tudor Fieldhouse. LU returns home for the first time since the season opener with California-Riverside at 2 o’clock in the Montagne Center.

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