Cards’ season on the brink

Published 8:22 pm Saturday, February 27, 2016

Lamar sports information

SAN ANTONIO – Junior Preston Mattingly came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points but received very little help as Lamar (11-17, 3-13 Southland) dropped an 89-70 decision at Incarnate Word Saturday afternoon.

The loss, combined with a McNeese State overtime win, places the visiting Cardinals in the position of needing to win their final two games and have the Cowboys lose their final two, plus have Nicholls lose at least one of its final three remaining games.

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The Lamar Cardinals finished the day 24 of 61 (.393) from the field, but less than 30 percent from three-point range. Led by a hot second half, UIW finished the day 30 of 55 (.545) from the field, including 14 three-pointers. LU was outrebounded by nine, 37-28.

Led by Mattingly’s 22, on 7-of-9 shooting, the Cardinals got 40 points from their bench. The LU bench outscored the Incarnate Word reserves, 40-24.

Other than Mattingly, only one other LU player finished the day in double figures. Senior Quan Jones added 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.

UIW finished the day with five players in double figures led by Kyle Hittle’s 30 points. Hittle was 6-of-9 (.667) from the floor. Shawn Johnson added 16 points, while Mitchell Badillo had 10 points and seven assists.

“Our defensive effort was nowhere close to it needs to be when you’re trying to fight your way into the conference tournament,” said head coach Tic Price. “We did not rotate well out of our traps, and I thought we were very lackadaisical. Our effort did not represent the urgency of the situation that we face.”

The Cardinals opened the game just 4-of-15, but took an early advantage based on its accuracy from beyond the arc. Big Red hit three of its first six attempts from long range to take a three-point lead, 18-15, following an and-one from junior Preston Mattingly.

After trailing, 20-17, UIW rattled of a 15-5 run to take a seven-point advantage. During the run UIW picked up their shooting from the field. After starting the game five for their first 14, UIW knocked down five of their next eight attempts, including a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.

San Antonio’s version of the Cardinals held that advantage as they took a 38-30 lead into the locker room. UIW shot 46 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes and was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. UIW also had an advantage on the glass, 23-15, but LU had the lead in second chance points.

Although LU heated up from its 2-of-10 start, the Cardinals couldn’t keep pace with their hosts shooting just 10-of-33 (.303) from the field. Big Red shot a little better from three-point range knocking down 4-of-10 attempts.

LU came out of the locker room and scored the first four points of the second half, but UIW answered with a 9-0 run to build a 13-point advantage, 47-34, four minutes into the half. The lead jumped to as many as 17 and remained in double figures until the five-minute mark when Jones buried a jumper to pull LU within nine, 74-65. The Cardinals could get no closer despite Mattingly’s career-high effort.

LU picked up the pace in the second half knocking down 14-of-28 shots, but struggled from three-point range hitting only one of its final seven. Even though LU got hot in the second half offensively, it never found a way to slow down UIW. The hosts shot better than 62 percent for the game, including a 10-of-14 performance from three-point range in the final half to pull away late.

The Cardinals return to action Monday when they return home to host McNeese State. The game against the rival Cowboys will tip off at 7 p.m., and can also be seen live on ESPN3.