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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Cardinals ride hot start to 75-68 win over Owls

Lamar sports information

HOUSTON – Lamar had five players in double figures led by 15 from senior Josh Nzeakor and Edwin Jeudy as the Cardinals defeated Rice, 75-68, Saturday afternoon at the Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston. In addition to his 15 points, Jeudy also added 10 rebounds.

The Cardinals shot 42 percent for the game after recording a 13-of-24 (.542) performance in the opening half. Big Red also dominated the glass recording a 36-28 advantage in rebounds.

Senior Nick Garth added 13 points, while junior Jordan Hunter added 12 points and five assists. Junior T.J. Atwood chipped in 11 and pulled down eight rebounds.

The Cardinals never allowed Rice to find its rhythm offensively. Led by 21 points from Robert Martin, the Owls finished the day 22 of 58 (.379) from the field, which included an 8-of-31 (.258) effort from beyond the arc.

“This is a very good win,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “We came in here very focused. Our kids were coming off two very good practices prior to coming here. Edwin was very locked in and we fed off that. We started him today to match their size and Edwin finished with a double-double. We cooled off in the second half, but I thought we played well defensively throughout. We also did a very good job on the boards which we felt we had to in order to win.”

LU didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard Saturday as Garth opened the game with a three-pointer. The Red and White followed with another triple from Edwin Jeudy following a block he recorded on the defensive end of the floor.

The Cardinals continued their hot shooting throughout the first 20 minutes of action. The Cardinals knocked down eight of their first 11 attempts, and 12 of their first 17 (.706), from their field on their way to a 54-percent clip in the opening 20 minutes. LU also knocked down four of its first eight three-pointers but missed their final three attempts of the half.

While the Cards were off and flying, LU kept the Owls grounded. The Owls converted just nine field goals in the opening 20 minutes and didn’t score their first basket until the 17:40 mark. Rice finished the half just one of its final five.

After building a 32-16 advantage, Rice went on a small 8-4 run to pull within 12 points, 36-24, with 3:17 remaining in the half but could get no closer before intermission. The Cardinals took a 37-26 lead into the locker room following a half that saw them dominate nearly every statistical category. LU took a 17-15 edge on the glass into halftime.

It was more of the same for the Red and White to start the second half. The Cardinals opened the half on an 11-3 run to build a 19-point advantage less than four minutes in. Unfortunately, Rice answered with an 11-4 run of its own to trim the lead to 54-42 with 12:32 remaining.

After a Rice three ball, the Cardinals got a three from Hunter followed by a stop one end of the floor which led to a Jeudy slam on a nice feed from T.J. Atwood on the other end to help LU push its lead back to 14.

Rice hit a three with 4:17 to play to cut LU lead to nine 66-57 and followed that up with two free throws to trim the lead to 66-59 with 3:35 left. Rice managed to stay within 10 points in the final 90 seconds of the game due to some LU misses at the free throw line. Rice trimmed the lead to three, 71-68, with two Robert Martin free throws with 16 seconds remaining. The Owls immediately fouled Nick Garth but the Houston native sunk both free throw attempts to give LU back a five-point advantage with seconds remaining. Garth closed the game by hitting his final four attempts from the stripe for the final score.

The Cardinals return to action Tuesday when they return to Houston to take on the University of Houston. The game against Cougars will tip off at 7 p.m. and can be heard live on Newstalk 560 KLVI.