Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Assemblies of God University, ranked second and fifth in the NAIA Preseason Top 25 coaches poll, entered this season known for balanced attacks and resilient defenses.
In the opener of the 20-game Sooner Athletic Conference season, this game featured a scoring bonanza by two terrific individuals.
Defending National Player of the Year Dominique Rambo outlasted the Bison’s Maurice “Mo” Woods in leading No. 3 ranked SAGU (8-1) to an impressive 89-76 road win.
The pair of senior guards combined to score 75 points. Rambo poured in 40 to pace the Lions to a win that saw no lead changes after a 10-0 run gave SAGU a 27-24 advantage.
In the early stages of the game, the Bison controlled everyone except Rambo.
They went on a 15-7 spree to lead 24-17 with 8:41 left in the half. Rambo accounted for the Lions’ first 15 points. Woods countered with 13.
What caused the Lions’ uproar was a stretch of play when they applied a press. It was just enough to regain the lead. They extended it to 36-31 by recess.
“We struggled shooting early, but our press got us back in it,” SAGU coach Donnie Bostwick said. “Then we started attacking the rim. The new defensive rules make it tough to stop penetration.”
Caleb Feemster wristed two short jumpers in the last minute to establish the lead.
Rambo and Woods registered 21 and 19 points respectively by halftime.
SAGU protected their upper hand by grabbing 15 offensive rebounds. It resulted in a 64-55 advantage in shot attempts.
Overall, the Lions had a 43-36 edge on the glass.
By the time three others joined Rambo in reaching double digits, they were able to stave off any thoughts of a comeback by OBU. Twice the hosts drew as close as four, the last at 46-42, but wouldn’t seriously threaten once the deficit reached 60-49 with 8:40 to play.
Caleb Gentry, Jonathan Walter and Feemster added 12, 11 and 10 points as the Lions connected on 47 percent from the field.
Rambo stroked 8-of-12 free throws, two three-pointers and dished three assists.
Bostwick celebrated the production of several other players.
“‘Hondo’ (Gentry) and Jon (Walter) hit a couple of big threes in the second half and Feemster and ‘E’ (Emmanuel Adoyi) had a few big putbacks,” Bostwick said. “Plus, ‘Big Rem’ (Remington Mitchell) gave us some very good minutes as well.”
Mitchell accounted for seven rebounds off the bench.
Woods, a transfer from NCAA Division I Eastern Illinois University, ended with 35 points on 11 of 15 shooting. He made two treys and swished 11 of 16 foul shots.
His stat line included seven rebounds, three helpers against a lone assist. Aaron Abram and Cale Jackson tossed in 12 points apiece.
OBU hindered their cause by missing 13 of 34 free throws and making 15 turnovers.
The teams, who were voted 1-2 in the preseason by SAC coaches (OBU was the pick as the team to beat), will meet again in Waxahachie on Feb. 13.
SAGU returns to the court at 8 p.m. Monday against Southwestern Christian University in Bethany, Okla.
SAGU returns home at 5 p.m. Jan. 11 against the University of Science and Arts.