Lions snap four game losing streak

Looking to break a four game losing streak, the Lions (9-14, 3-8 SLC) faced up against in-state and conference rival Northwestern State (14-11, 7-4 SLC). The Lions would end that four game losing streak in a 66-61 win.

The Lions took an early lead after freshman guard/forward Onochie Ochie drained a three-pointer to put the Lions up 10-7. But, by the 14:29 mark, the Demons fought their way back into the game, taking a commanding eight-point lead, 20-12. The difference stretched to 10 points, before the Lions, headed by junior forward Roosevelt “Ro” Johnson and junior guard Todd Nelson, made a late push to take the lead going into the half. A dunk by freshman forward Donovan Ross brought the score to 29-26 in favor of the Demons, but an attempt from half court by sophomore guard Jeremy Campbell banked off of the backboard.

The Lions and Demons kept the score close throughout the majority of the first half, but the Lions lost the short lead they had managed at the 9:13 mark with a three-pointer from Demon guard Louis Ellis. However, the Lions evened the score with two successful free throws by Johnson, leaving the score at 51 with a little over five minutes left to play. The Lions would not look back after that, finishing the game 66-61.

Head coach Jim Yarbrough was pleased with his team’s performance.

“I think they’re tired of losing,” said Yarbrough. “I think they wanted to make a push or at least represent themselves with some respect and that’s good to see.”

With team leader Brandon Fortenberry sidelined, other players on the team have stepped up to take charge of the team.

“Naturally, DeShawn Patterson and Elgin Bailey, as seniors, want this season to finish up as positively as possible,” said Yarbrough.

Still, Fortenberry contributes every way possible.

“Frankly, I think Brandon’s done a beautiful job from the bench. It’s almost like another assistant coach,” said Yarbrough.

Campbell led the team with 14 points, while Johnson followed with 13 and Bailey with 12. Demon center William Mosley tied UCONN center and current New Orleans Hornets center Emeka Okafor for tenth all-time in career blocks on the NCAA leader board.

The Lions have five conference games left and are still holding on to the hope of a possible SLC tournament seed.

“My fear is that we’re starting to figure out how to play together. We’re starting to create a little identity,” said Yarbrough. “We’ve had two tough losses at home. We played awfully well against UTSA this past Wednesday. It looks like maybe we’re starting to figure out how to put some things together. I just hope it’s not too late.”

The Lions play conference rival Lamar on the road tomorrow, Feb. 15. They return home on Saturday, Feb. 18 to host Tennessee-Martin at 6 p.m.