Men’s hoops looks to keep momentum in non-conference finale

One of the hottest teams in the Southland Conference, the Lamar men’s basketball team is in the midst of its best stretch since the 2011-12 season. The Christmas holiday was made a little brighter after the Cardinals come-from-behind overtime victory over Rice. Lamar now looks keep the momentum as it closes the non-conference portion of its schedule Tuesday against Huston-Tillotson.

The Cardinals enter the fourth game, of a five-game homestand, looking to get back to the .500 mark for the first time since the second game of the season. Lamar enters their showdown against Huston-Tillotson with 5-6 (.455) overall record after winning the last three games. Huston-Tillotson comes to Beaumont with a 2-8 (.200) record, and has dropped two straight and five of their last six games. An NAIA school from the Red River Conference, the Rams are coming off a 90-56 setback at Texas State prior to Christmas.

The Cardinals posted a thrilling overtime victory against Rice which saw Lamar rally from a double-digit first-half deficit, continue their hot shooting, and record some very strong individual performances off off the bench.

After shooting just 30 percent in the opening half, Lamar closed regulation with an 11-of-19 (.579) performance against the Owls. Add to that the 3-of-4 shooting in overtime and the Cardinals shot better than 60 percent from the field in the final 25 minutes of the game.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” said head coach Tic Price following the team’s win over Rice. “But, our guys just kept grinding and found a way to pull this one out. I was proud of how our guys came up with big play after big play. Any time you have six guys in double figures that lets you know it was a true team performance.”

Although senior Tyran de Lattibeaudiere recorded his second consecutive double-double, and the team’s fourth straight, the Cardinals were led by two players off the bench in their victory over the Owls. Freshman point guard Kevin Booze and sophomore Marcus Owens combined to score 31 of the team’s 79 points against the Owls. While Owens was making a living from long range (4-of-5 on three-pointers), Booze was effective penetrating to the basket. Booze also knocked down three of the team’s season-high 10 three-pointers against the Owls.

For Booze, his 17 points marked a career-high, while Owens’ 14-point effort marked his first double-figure output of the season.

The Cardinals not only received a boost from their reserves, but were also able to prevent Rice’s bench from having any kind impact on the game. Lamar’s reserves outscored the Owls’ backups, 33-0.

De Lattibeaudiere continues to lead the Lamar offense averaging nearly 15 points and eight rebounds per game. Senior Donovan Ross has caught fire lately for the Cardinals as well. After hitting double figures only once in the team’s first seven games, Ross has now scored double figures in each of the past four games, and is averaging 19 points per game during that stretch and is shooting 34-of-55 (.618) from the field in those games. He enters Tuesday’s game second on the team averaging better than 10 points per game.

The game against the Rams will tip off at 7 p.m. from the Montagne Center.