Senior guard Rob Thomas’ three-pointer with 33 seconds left to play Thursday night delivered the knockout blow in the men’s basketball team’s season opener against LSU-Shreveport.
The 67-65 home win over the No. 7-ranked Pilots lifted the Rams (ranked No. 11) at the end of a hard-fought contest that saw the lead change hands seven times and was highlighted by Texas Wesleyan’s clutch defensive play in the second half.
Head coach Brennen Shingleton said Thomas’ three-pointer was pivotal to the win.
“Rob’s [Thomas] three really was the biggest shot of the game,” Shingleton said. “It gave us a little breathing room in case of a defensive mistake.”
Despite the battle, Shingleton had nothing but praise for the Rams for implementing his game plan and following through.
“Our goal was plus-six in rebounding; we were plus-19,” Shingleton said. “Another goal was to hold them under 70 [points overall] we held them to 65. Those types of thing are kind of a barometer of your team, how you’re guarding and how you’re moving the ball offensively.”
Sophomore guard Justin Flakes was proud of the level of effort and determination displayed by the team as a whole.
“I’m glad we fought back; we never gave up,” Flakes said. “We found a way to get a win.” Despite the closeness of the game and the lead changing seven times, Flakes maintains that LSU-Shreveport did exactly what the Rams expected them to do.
“We knew they were going to come in a take quick shots and shoot a few threes,” Flake said. “Defensively, we were prepared for it.”
The Rams were slow to start offensively in the first half, with most of the production coming from junior forward Julian Torres, who led the team with 15 points and five rebounds. Torres’ physical play resulted with him being fouled out with 8:44 left to play, according to ramsports.net.
LSU-Shreveport led by up to 13 points in the first half, but by halftime, the Rams had cut that lead to only four points, according to ramsports.net.
The first lead for the Rams came from a Thomas shot with 5:32 left to play in the game, putting the Rams up 56-54.
Junior guard Sam Lorenzen credits the second half comeback to the Rams stepping up defensively and battling through adversity, despite spending all of the first half.
“Getting down early in the first half forced us to step up defensively,” Lorenzen said.
Lorenzen maintains that defensive stops and rebounds allowed the Rams to mount a comeback late in the second half to win the game.
“Defensive rebounds were huge in the second half,” Lorenzen said. “It gave us room to set up the offense and turn the direction of the game.”
Shingleton didn’t plan on changing his strategy for Friday’s game against LSU-Alexandria and maintains that the Rams have a good base to work from.
“We aren’t going to change anything, we’re just going to get better at it.” Shingleton said. “We’re going to shoot the ball better. We had a little anxiety tonight and we had to get that out of our system.”
The Rams play LSU-Alexandria at 3 p.m. Friday the Sid Richardson Center. For more information, go to ramsports.net.