UPDATED: 8:35 PM
The Lamar State dream season was bounced back into reality Tuesday evening and its championship aspirations were dashed after the Seahawks offense was held in check virtually all night in a 70-52 loss to the Monroe Mustangs.
Turnovers, poor offensive execution and missed free throws doomed the Seahawks from the beginning of the game, as the team never really got into any kind of offensive rhythm. Of course, the Monroe defense had a lot to do with that, as the Mustang team speed was on display all night, especially on the defensive side, holding the Seahawks to a mere 20 percent shooting in the first half.
Lamar State kept the game close for the first 30 minutes of the ball game, trailing by only four at halftime, 27-23, and the Seahawks hung around the first few minutes of the second half, never trailing by more than six. In fact, Lamar State pulled to within three, 37-34, after a Vonn Jones three point basket, and it appeared that the Seahawks were poised to make one of their patented come-from-behind runs.
However, unlike the other teams that have allowed Lamar State back in, Monroe simply locked it down defensively, the Seahawks couldn’t buy a bucket and on the other end, Monroe simply had its way inside with too many easy baskets and suddenly, the three point margin ballooned to a 47-35 contest and the lead stayed in double-digits the rest of the way.
Gordon Ball led the Seahawks with 15 points, and the sophomore from Missouri City also pulled down eight boards. While the possibility of a championship is over, the Seahawks can still play for seventh place but must win their next three games. The NJCAA is a double-elimination, and Lamar State plays again on Thursday at noon.
Lamar State’s incredible run continues tonight when the Seahawks, winners of the Region 14 Conference Tournament last week, takes on Monroe College from the Bronx, New York in the opening round of the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchison, Kansas.
This is the first NJCAA Tournament trip for the Seahawks, who were a club basketball team a mere seven years ago, and began competing in Division I JUCO basketball only three years ago.
Lamar State is 25-9 on the season and has won eight straight games dating back to February 16. Monroe is no slouch either in the consecutive wins department, as the Mustangs have rattled off 19 wins in row dating back to Dec. 12. Monroe, 29-4 on the year, is one of only two teams in the 16-team field to make a return trip from last year’s tournament. They finished seventh last season.
The Seahawks are led by a veteran, sophomore group that includes Region 14 Tournament MVP Vonn Jones, as well as Southeast Texas product Roman Vaughn, who was the only Region 14 player this season and first ever Seahawk to be named NJCAA National Player of the Week.