The No. 1 Southwestern Assemblies of God University met a resolute Wayland Baptist University team determined to bounce back after three straight heart-breaking losses.
The host Pioneers broke an 82-82 tie with 1:33 to play by scoring the gameís final seven points to defeat SAGU, 89-82.
The Lionsí 11-game winning streak and 9-0 start in the Sooner Athletic Conference came to an end. At 16-2, the teamís stay at No. 1 will likely be short-lived, though all of SAGUís goals remain intact.
Wayland Baptist, now 13-5 and 4-4 in the SAC, improved their home record to 10-0. They had fallen 75-71, 82-81 in overtime and 102-99 in the previous week.
The Pioneersí defense restricted the Lions to a season-low 25 percent accuracy (11 of 44) in the first half to build a 36-22 lead.
The game witnessed several scoring runs by the Lions, each time threatening to take the lead. Each one was answered by the hosts.
The Pioneers assembled a 75-60 lead with 6:09 to play. It appeared they had weathered the Lionsí storm. But there was another SAGU surge coming.
SAGU ripped the nets from downtown four times; twice by Tyler Guidry, and once apiece from Dominique Rambo and Jonathan Walter.
There was a wide-open Rambo jumper and three layups; one by Caleb Feemster and a pair from Rambo. One of his came when he split two defenders and layed in a circus scoop shot.
After forcing a Pioneersí turnover, Rambo raced upcourt, sent a pass to the corner, and netted the equalizer. His bank off the window from 15-feet out knotted the score at 82.
SAGU had made seven-of-11 shots in a 22-7 surge.
Wayland had gotten off a lone missed shot and coughed up seven turnovers during the run.
On WBUís next possession, senior guard Barry Johnson drove to the right block only to have his shot seemingly blocked by Walter. A foul was called instead and it was Walterís fifth.
Johnson made the first free throw with 1:08 to go. He missed the second but wound up with the rebound. He spotted Markus Monroe with a pass en route to a driving layup and an 85-82 lead with 52 seconds left.
The Lionsí hot hands triggered five attempted three-pointers in the last minute. All missed as the Pioneers salted away an impressive upset at the foul line.
Though the crowd was relatively small, it flood the court to celebrate with the team. Such is the underneath side of being ranked at the top.
SAGUís typical strategy was clearly evident; solid defense, forcing turnovers, crashing the offensive boards, knocking down three-pointers and taking more shots than their opponents. That wasnít enough on this night.
Wayland made 27 of 39 free throws. SAGU was only 10 of 13.
The more physical Pioneers did win the battle for rebounds, 55-46, as neither team shot particularly well. It enabled them to hold the lead despite SAGU enjoying a huge advantage in shots attempted 88 to 61.
The Lions owned a 14-10 edge in three-pointers and a 21-16 upper hand on the offensive glass. SAGU forced 17 turnovers while making only nine, four in the second half.
SAGU had nine of 11 players produce points, three reaching double-digits. Rambo contributed 22 and racked up six assists.
Feemster racked up 18 points, including four three-pointerss, grabbed six boards and made four steals. Gentry accounted for 12, three of which came on trifectas.
Guidry and Walter had eight and seven points before fouling out. Guidry also had four assists in 14 minutes.
Andre Creer made a solid showing with eight boards in nine minutes.
The Lions will be back in action on Monday when they travel to northwestern Arkansas to face Ecclesia College in Springdale. The Royals are 4-13.
On Jan. 30, SAGU will be at second place Oklahoma City University (10-6, 6-3 in SAC).
The Lions return home Feb. 1, when they entertain Southwestern Christian University at 5 p.m.
Lady Lions fall to WBU
SAGU built an early lead, but squandered a chance to open a bigger one as WBU bounced back to claim a 75-58 triumph.
The Lady Pioneers dominated the SAGU interior to pave the way to their fifth consecutive win.
SAGU, who won two in a row, slipped to 10-10 in all games and 4-6 in the SAC.
The Lady Lions, intent on establishing a good beginning, took an 11-7 lead less than seven minutes into the game.
Having survived the Lady Lionsí energetic start, the Wayland women countered with a 13-1 run for a 20-12 lead.
While they held their own in the second half, SAGU never seriously threatened. The closest they came was 11 points.