ABILENE, Tx. — Payten Ricks may only be a freshman, but over the past three games, he isn’t playing like it’s his first year in the NCAA.
Coming into Saturday’s tilt with the Lamar Cardinals, the Abilene Christian Wildcats‘ freshman guard has averaged 12 points per contest, and he put up a career-high 15 points against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks last week.
Against the Cardinals, the Wildcats were looking to avoid a 1-5 start in Southland Conference play, and they found themselves in a fight with Lamar that came down to the wire. With under 10 seconds to play, the Wildcats had a chance to win the game, avoiding an extra five-minute the frame.
The ball was in the hands of Ricks.
With the clock ticking down, Ricks put up a half-court heave that beat the buzzer. It banked off the back board, fell for his only three pointer, and the Wildcats stunned the Cardinals.
BEAUMONT, Tex. — In 2016-17, the Southland Conference isn’t quite what it used to be. With the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks not being as dominant as in the past, the door is open for other teams to contend atop the standings.
The likes of the New Orleans Privateers, who currently sit atop the Southland standings, and Houston Baptist Huskies have the look of a true contender this season, at least on paper, while there are others who are flying under the radar.
One of those teams calls Beaumont, Texas home. The Lamar Cardinals entered Wednesday’s action with a 10-6 record overall, and were 2-1 in conference action. They welcomed the Incarnate Word Cardinals to town, looking to extend their winning streak to a modest two games.
Incarnate Word, on the other hand, were looking to rebound from an 87-72 loss to the Privateers in their previous outing.
Ironically, history would repeat itself on Wednesday, and not in a good way for the visitors.
BEAUMONT, Texas — After suffering their first loss of conference play to the New Orleans Privateers in their last outing, a four-point defeat in overtime, the Lamar Cardinals were out to make it a distant memory.
Thanks to Colton Weisbrod and Zjori Bosha, the Cardinals held down their home court in convincing fashion.
Weisbrod entered the game as the team’s leading scorer, averaging just under 15 points per contest as a junior college transfer. Against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions on Saturday afternoon, he had the best game of his young, but impressive, Division I career.
The junior finished the game shooting 14-of-19 from the field, and 6-of-7 from the line, recording a career-high 34 points in the process. To put his performance into perspective, no other Lamar player scored more than nine points on the night (Torey Noel).
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.
Wednesday was a day to remember for junior forward Colton Weisbrod and the Lamar Cardinals.
Weisbrod was celebrating his champagne birthday, as he turned 21 on the 21st of December. He was looking to lead Lamar to their second straight victory when they welcomed the Arlington Baptist Patriots to the Montagne Centre.
It was the last game for the Cardinals before the Christmas break, and it was the second of three games at home before Southland play kicks off in the New Year.
The Cardinals built some positive momentum in their last outing, an 82-65 win over the Liberty Flames, and they carried that momentum into Wednesday’s tilt.
Nine players scored in double figures for the Cardinals, and Lamar won their second straight game in convincing fashion over the Patriots, 126-75.