Cardinals unsuccessful in stopping upstart Huskies

Published 10:55 pm Saturday, January 23, 2016

BEAUMONT — Well, a slow start can’t be blamed this time.
Lamar actually led the Southland Conference-leading team 15-10 through the first
6½ minutes, but there were 33½ more minutes to go. And Houston Baptist was just getting going.
The Huskies shot 50 percent from the field in Saturday’s 92-79 win over Lamar before a season-high crowd of 2,312 at the Montagne Center. But it’s the fourth time in five games the Cardinals (10-9, 2-5 Southland) have given up 90 or more points.
“Coach told us we weren’t going to win if we don’t come out and defend,” said
Marcus Owens, who had 18 points and six rebounds to lead Lamar. “We didn’t defend tonight. We gave up, what, 90 points? That’s the way it’s been for [four of the last five] games. We’re not going to win like that.”
Lamar has lost five of six and two straight, and a loss at Stephen F. Austin on
Monday will put the Cardinals at a .500 win percentage for the first time since the Nov. 25 loss at Rice.
Lamar coach Tic Price called the state of his team “very fragile.”
“I think our guys are trying,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of confidence when we lose a few games, and we’ve lost a couple of games in a row now. It takes away from your spirit, your approach. You become fragile.”
In typical Lamar fashion, the loss didn’t come without a surge.
Freshman Nick Garth sank a pair of three-point baskets to pull Lamar within 48-44, after the Cards had trailed 40-29 at halftime. The reserve guard scored 12 of his 14 points from the three-point arc.
Owens and Garth each made 4 of 5 from the perimeter, in fact. Owens scored eight of the team’s first 10 points of the game.
Lincoln Davis finished with 16 points, converting 11 of 15 free throws, and Kevin
Booze scored 10 for the Cards. But their biggest problem came on the defensive end.
“We preach defense in practice every day,” Owens said. “We go over the scouting report. I don’t know.”
The Cardinals were still within 58-50 at the 12:20 mark when Booze was whistled for a technical foul. That gave the Huskies a little momentum, as they went on a 6-0 run.
The closest Lamar came from there would be 77-71, but the Cardinals missed 4 of 8 free throws in the final 4 minutes and struggled to keep Houston Baptist from scoring in the paint.
Colter Lasher made 4 of 6 three-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds for Houston Baptist (12-7, 7-0), a team that’s won eight straight and is looking for its first winning season since joining Division I in 2007.
Anthony Odunsi, the Southland Conference’s fourth-leading scorer this season, also had 19 points and five assists, center Josh Ibarra registered 18 points and 12 rebounds and Reveal Chukwujekwu tallied 12 points. All but Odunsi shot 50 percent or better from the field.
“We didn’t pass the toughness test,” Price said. “We gave up way too many offensive boards, fast-break points and points off turnovers. The first half, especially, … 50-50 balls, we’ve got to get those.”
Eighteen of Houston Baptist’s 47 rebounds were on the offensive glass. The Huskies had a 10-5 fast-break edge and 20-10 advantage in second-chance points.
Lamar and Stephen F. Austin will tip off at 7 p.m. Monday in Nacogdoches, and will webcast the game.
“I know it’s frustrating for everybody in Cardinal Nation, our players and coaches,”
Price said. “We’re still growing and I’ve got to stay patient. And, we’ve got to continue to work.”

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About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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