Cardinals have to wait another game to lock up spot in Katy
Southland Conference men’s basketball standings
New Orleans 12-4 17-10
TAMU-Corpus Christi 11-5 18-5
Stephen F. Austin 11-5 16-12
Houston Baptist 10-6 15-12
Sam Houston State 9-7 18-11
Lamar 8-8 16-13
SE Louisiana 8-9 15-15
Nicholls State 7-9 14-15
Abilene Christian 7-9 13-14
Central Arkansas 7-10 8-22
Incarnate Word 6-10 11-16
Northwestern State 5-11 11-16
McNeese State 4-12 7-20
Lamar sports information
BEAUMONT – Lamar entered the day needing only a win over Houston Baptist, or a Nicholls State loss, to lock up a spot in next month’s Southland Conference Championship tournament but neither happened.
The Cardinals (16-13, 8-8 SLC) never recovered from a 1-of-13 start from the field falling to Houston Baptist, 75-68, Saturday evening in the Montagne Center.
The Cardinals started the game one for its first 13 and two for its first 17, and the second field goal was a rushed three ball from senior Marcus Owens to beat the shot clock. LU finished the game 20-of-52 (.385) from the field following a stronger second half that saw them shoot better than 48 percent.
The Huskies finished the game shooting better than 49 percent from the field, despite a 3-of-12 (.200) start. The visitors rode a hot second half that saw them knock down 15-of-28 (.536) attempts in the final 20 minutes. HBU did the majority of its damage in the paint outscoring LU by 17 in that area.
HBU also beat the Cardinals on the boards. Led by six players with at least five rebounds, the Huskies held a 41-28 advantage on the boards.
Junior Colton Weisbrod and sophomore Nick Garth both hit the 20-point plateau as Weisbrod led all scorers with 24 points, while Garth netted 23. Atif Russell came off the bench to lead the Huskies with 18 points. He was one of four players in double figures for HBU.
Free throws from Lincoln Davis and Weisbrod were the only points from LU for the first 6:35 of action. Junior Christian Albright recorded the team’s first field goal at the 13:24 mark to pull the Cardinals within three. The Cardinals would go on to score four of the game’s next six points to pull within one but HBU had an answer pushing its lead back to six.
That would be the theme throughout the game, the Cards would surge but HBU responded.
LU went into the locker room trailing by only five, 34-29, following a Garth three-pointer – one of four on the night – with 33 seconds remaining. Garth’s three closed a 20-minute stretch that saw LU convert just 7-of-25 (.280) shots, while the Huskies opened the game shooting 44 percent from the field. Both teams were 3-of-10 from three-point range in the first half.
The second half started much the same as the first as the Cardinals watched the deficit balloon to 11 points less than four minutes into the half. Big Red responded by trimming the lead down to four points just over three minutes later by rattling off a small 9-2 run. LU was unable to sustain the run as the Huskies got the lead back to nine points after a Russell and-one and a Cody Stetler layup.
The Cardinals made another run just moments later. After Stetler’s layup gave HBU a nine-point advantage, LU responded with an 11-2 run to pull even for the first time since the opening tip. Weisbrod got the basket on a nice pass from Garth in traffic.
After a Russell free throw on the other end of the floor, the Cardinals appeared poised to take their first lead of the game but was turned away as Davis’ dunk rattled out of the rim – one of several shots from point blank range that didn’t fall for Cardinals Saturday evening.
It remained a one-possession game for the next 3:30 before Reveal Chukwujekwu put HBU up by four with 3:49 left to play. The Cardinals didn’t get any closer as HBU was able to push its lead back to nine at the free throw line before the final tally was posted.
The Cardinals will need to bounce back Thursday when they return to the Montagne Center to host Nicholls. The game against the Colonels will tip off at 7 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPN3, and heard live on Newstalk 560 KLVI.
Nicholls is currently a game back of LU with two games remaining. A victory Wednesday would solidify a spot for the Cardinals in the postseason tournament. SLC tournament tickets are now on sale through the LU Ticket Office.