Before the Christmas break, the Lamar Cardinals got back to their winning ways, scoring two straight victories before the holidays.
In their first game back, they picked up right where they left off.
Lamar welcomed the NAIA Huston-Tillotson Rams to Beaumont, TX in the non-conference finale for the Cardinals. The two programs last met back in the 2014-15 season, with Lamar scoring the 85=59 win to close out non-conference play that year.
History would repeat itself on Thursday night, as Lamar never trailed against the Rams. Josh Nzeakor got the party started with a layup in the first minute to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead, and they would remain in control through to the final buzzer.
Nzeakor and fellow forward Colton Weisbrod combined for 36 points and 16 rebounds, while shooting a combined 16-for-20 (80.0%) from the field in Lamar’s 90-63 win over Huston-Tillotson.
Nzeakor’s layup to open the game kicked off an 8-2 run for the Cardinals, one that was capped off by a layup from Joey Frenchwood with just under 17 minutes to play in the opening half.
A steal and layup from Dionte Forney brought the Rams back to within two just over a minute later, but they were unable to take the lead. Lamar padded their lead for a brief time, but the Rams continued to fight.
Lamar would push their lead to seven, but Forney kept the Rams in striking distance. He got another layup to fall, bringing Huston-Tillotson to within 16-14 with 12:26 left in the opening half, but that was as close as the Rams would get the rest of the way.
Zjori Bosha answered with a three pointer for the Cardinals on offense, and recorded a block on the next defensive possession to give Lamar a five-point lead. The Cardinals would stretch their lead to as many as 12 points in the opening half, and they took a 47-37 lead into the break.
In the second half, the Cardinals blew the game wide open. A 25-4 run extended the lead for Lamar to 72-41 with under ten minutes to play in the game, and the Cardinals cruised to the lopsided victory own the stretch.
Lamar extended their winning streak to three games with the 90-63 win over Huston-Tillotson on Thursday night.
The recently-engaged Colton Weisbrod led the way for Lamar, scoring a game-high 19 rebounds to go along with 10 rebounds, while shooting 8-of-11 from the field. Not to be outdone, Josh Nzeakor added 17 points and 6 rebounds, while going 8-of-9 from the field.
Guard Joey Frenchwood recorded his third straight double-double, as the reigning Southland Conference Player of the Week chipped in 12 points and 10 assists in the win.
Vernest Dotson (13 points) and Jalen Norwood (12 points) led the way for the Rams off the bench in the loss.
With the win, the Lamar Cardinals (8-5, 0-0) closed out non-conference play with a three game winning streak, and a perfect 6-0 record at home inside the Montagne Centre. The Cardinals open up conference play on Monday, January 2nd, when they head on the road to take on the Central Arkansas Bears.
– T. Bennett