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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Cards shoot 52 percent, beat Rams by 20

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT – Senior Josh Nzeakor lead four Cardinals in double figures as Lamar defeated Huston-Tillotson, 79-59, Tuesday evening at the Montagne Center.

Nzeakor paced Big Red’s attack with a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds.

As a team, the Cardinals shot nearly 52 percent from the field, and shot at least 50 percent in each half. LU also converted 10 of 25 (.400) three-point attempts and dominated the glass with a 45-29 advantage.

The Cards struggled, however, from the free throw line in the second half. After going perfect from the stripe in the opening 20 minutes, LU struggled to an 8-of-21 (.381) performance in the second and finished the game 13-of-26 (.500).

Similar to last season, the Cardinals received a spark from its reserves. Big Red’s bench outscored the Rams’ reserves, 26-16.

“We’ve got a good basketball team, but we’ve got some kinks to work out,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “We are not consistent right now. When we get a team down, we have to figure out a way to keep them down. We gave up a few buckets tonight that we were a half-step slow on and we lost some balls tonight that we work hard in practice to recover. I thought we did a good job on them defensively in the first half, but we didn’t get the job done in the second.”

Junior Nick Garth came off the bench to score 15 points on 4-of-8 (.500) shooting and was 3-of-6 (.500) from beyond the arc. Junior Jordan Hunter scored 11 points and dished out three assists, while classmate Mike Kolawole added 10 points and grabbed seven boards.

The Cardinals opened the game on a 17-0 run and never looked back dispensing of their season-opening guests with little issues. The Red and White pushed their lead to as many as 24 points (38-14) with 5:52 remaining in the opening half before taking a 22-point lead into the locker room, 44-22.

LU got a better fight in the second half from the Rams, who managed to cut into the lead. After being held to a 22-percent clip in the opening 20 minutes, the Rams started to heat up in the second. The Rams converted 13-of-30 (.433) attempts and took advantage of a 9-0 run to pull within 15, 64-49, with less than 6 minutes remaining.

The run was sparked by 12 points from Courtney Julien, but LU didn’t allow their guests to get any closer. The Rams finished the night 20-of-61 (.328) from the field.

The Cardinals return to action Friday when they travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech. The game against the Yellowjackets will tip off at 6:30 p.m. Central from McCamish Pavilion.