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.
Thursday was a busy day in the college basketball world, and a sad one for the basketball world, in general.
The legendary Craig Sager passed away at the age of 65, after a lengthy battle with Leukemia. Fans around the world looked back on their fondest memories of Mr. Sager to pay their respects, as the sporting world lost yet another icon in 2016.
Rest in the sweetest peace, Craig Sager.
On Thursday, the college basketball world offered up some top-notch action, even though there were only a handful of games on the slate. No ranked teams were in action on the night, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any big time performances to talk about.
The Auburn Tigers tied an SEC record for three pointers in a game, en route to a 45-point win, while yet another NAIA team knocked off a Division I opponent in 2016-17.
Through their first two games of the season, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks have been piling up the points. They put up 98 points in the season opener, and followed that up with a 94-point effort last time out.
On Sunday, the Fighting Hawks were looking to win their third straight game to open the season, something they haven’t done since the 2002-2003 season. Sunday’s game against the Presentation College Saints (NAIA) marked the third of three straight home games to start the year.
In the opening minutes, the Saints hung around with North Dakota, and they held a 17-15 lead with 11:01 to play in the first half. Elijah Valdez came out of the gate firing for Presentation College, scoring 10 points in the opening eight-plus minutes to pace the Saints.
Then, North Dakota started to take over.
Sophomore guard Geno Crandall recorded 15 of his game-high 17 points in the opening half, as North Dakota was able to break things open in the final ten minutes. The Fighting Hawks took a 53-34 lead into halftime, and it was smooth sailing from there.
The Northwestern State Demons are home to the top scoring guard duo in the NCAA, in Jalan West and Zeek Woodley. Combined, the two averaged over 42 points per game a season ago.
On Monday night, Jalan West was on the sidelines, recovering from an injury sustained in the Demons’ season opener against Ole Miss. They were taking on LSU-Alexandria, a team from the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) in the NAIA, so on paper it was a good game to sit out and recover.
The Generals took advantage of West’s absence, and brought their A-game in the process.