KATY, Texas – Southeastern Louisiana had four players in double figures but Lamar took advantage of an eight-minute field goal drought by the Lions in the second half for a 77-65 victory in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament at the Leonard E. Merrell Center Wednesday night.
Sophomore guard Marlain Veal led seventh-seeded Southeastern (16-16) with 16 points and five assists. Sophomore guard Dimi Cook tossed in 13 points while junior forward James Currington and junior guard Jabbar Singleton 10 apiece. Junior guard Davon Hayes had a team-high six rebounds. The Lions shot 47.9 percent from the field but just 23.8 percent (5-for-21) on 3-pointers.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Southeastern head coach Jay Ladner said of a contest that featured six lead changes and eight ties. “It was two teams fighting for their lives out there. Lamar made more plays than we did so you have to give them credit. They were very well prepared and I thought our guys fought hard as well. We made a few too many mistakes and defensively, we broke down a little bit. We did a great job against (Colton) Weisbrod, holding him to eight points. But their guard play was outstanding. They were able to break our perimeter defense down at times and were able to capitalize on that. It was an intense game and what I think a conference game should be like. All the credit goes to coach (Tic) Price and Lamar and we wish them the best of luck.”
Sixth-seeded Lamar (19-13) advances to play No. 4 seed Stephen F. Austin (17-12) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Lamar’s top-three scorers all came off the bench as the Cardinals’ reserves out-scored Southeastern’s 44-22. Nick Garth tossed in a game-high 17 points while Marcus Owens contributed 12 points and Torey Noel 11. Colton Weisbrod had a game-high nine rebounds as the Cardinals out-rebounded the Lions 31-28 while shooting 47.9 percent from the field.
Southeastern trailed 34-30 at the half but scored on six of its first seven possessions coming out of the break, tying the game on a Veal layup with 19:15 left. Lamar took a 40-38 lead on a Josh Nzeakor jumper at the 17:50 mark, but the Lions countered with 3s by Veal, Hayes and Singleton to go up 47-44 with 15:14 remaining.
An Owens 3 put Lamar back ahead, 49-47, with 14:17 left. Owens added another 3 and Garth knocked down another to make it 55-49 with 13:14 remaining. Sophomore forward Moses Greenwood hooked in a shot and
Garth drove in for a layup to make it 57-51 at the 12:04 mark. Those would be the last two field goals for either team for the next with two Cook free throws cutting the deficit to 58-54 with 8:12 left.
Garth hit a 3 and Owens knocked down two free throws to give Lamar a 64-54 lead at the 5:10 mark.
Currington ended an 8:07 field goal drought for Southeastern with a layup with 4:50 left. But the Cardinals answered with a Dorian Chatman layup and two Garth free throws put the Cardinals up, 68-57, with 2:27 remaining.
Cook drove the left baseline to make it 71-63 with 1:03 left. But the Lions could not get any closer as Lamar made six straight free throws in the final minute.
Lamar jumped out to a 10-4 lead on a 3 by Lincoln Davis at the 14:21 mark with a jumper by Hayes the lone Southeastern field goal in the first 5:56. Hayes hit another jumper and Currington followed with one from the left side to cut the deficit to 10-9 with 12:54 left.
The Cardinals went up by five three times, the last at 21-16 on a dunk by Nzeakor with 7:24 remaining.
Veal raced into the lane for a layup and junior forward Eddy Polanco hit four free throws to tie the game at 25 with 5:03 left. Polanco added two more free throws to give the Lions their first lead at 27-25 at the 4:14 mark.
Weisbrod hit two free throws to put Lamar back up, 30-28, with 2:06 left. After Singleton tied it again with two free throws, Noel hit a short jumper, then drove in from the right side with 30 seconds left to give the Cardinals a 34-30 halftime lead.
LAMAR UNIVERSITY 77, SOUTHEASTERN LA. 65
SOUTHEASTERN LA. (16-16)
Veal, Marlain 5-11 4-5 16; Cook, Dimi 5-11 2-2 13; Currington, James 4-6 2-4 10; Singleton, Jabbar 2-5 5-6 10; Hayes, Davon 3-9 0-0 7; Polanco, Eddy 0-6 6-6 6; Greenwood, Moses 1-1 1-2 3; Nelson, Dominic 0-1 0-0 0; Corchiani, Michael 0-0 0-0 0; Mejia, Chris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-50 20-25 65.
LAMAR UNIVERSITY (19-13)
Garth,Nick 5-9 5-6 17; Owens,Marcus 2-4 6-6 12; Noel,Torey 5-8 0-0 11; Nzeakor,Josh 4-5 1-2 9; Davis,Lincoln 3-4 1-2 8; Weisbrod,Colton 2-4 4-6 8; Frenchwood,Joey 1-5 4-4 6; Chatman,Dorian 1-3 2-2 4; Bosha,Zjori 0-5 2-2 2; Albright,Christian 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-48 25-30 77.
Southeastern La…………… 30 35 – 65
Lamar University………….. 34 43 – 77
3-point goals–Southeastern La. 5-21 (Veal, Marlain 2-5; Singleton, Jabbar 1-3; Cook, Dimi 1-2; Hayes, Davon 1-6; Polanco, Eddy 0-5), Lamar University 6-20 (Owens,Marcus 2-4; Garth,Nick 2-5; Noel,Torey 1-3; Davis,Lincoln 1-2; Chatman,Dorian 0-1; Bosha,Zjori 0-3; Albright,Christian 0-1; Frenchwood,Joey 0-1). Fouled out–Southeastern La.-None, Lamar University-None. Rebounds–Southeastern La. 28 (Hayes, Davon 6), Lamar University 31 (Weisbrod,Colton 9). Assists–Southeastern La. 10 (Veal, Marlain 5), Lamar University 10 (Noel,Torey 3; Garth,Nick 3). Total fouls–Southeastern La. 25, Lamar University 21. Technical fouls–Southeastern La.-None, Lamar University-TEAM. A-1127
Southland Conference Tournament Game 2
2017 Southland Conference Tournament
at Merrell Center, Katy, Texas
First Round – Wednesday, March 8
Game 1: 5-Sam Houston 77, 8-Central Arkansas 69
Game 2: 6-Lamar 77, 7-Southeastern 65
Second Round – Thursday, March 9
Game 3: 5-Sam Houston vs. 4-Houston Baptist, 5 p.m.
Game 4: 6-Lamar vs. 3-Stephen F. Austin, 7:30 p.m.
Semifinals – Friday, March 10
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. 1-New Orleans, 5 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. 2-TAMCC, 7:30 p.m.
Championship – Saturday, March 11
Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 8:30 p.m.