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| Menís Basketball Finishes First Winning Season |
The University of St. Thomas Men’s Basketball team completed its third season with an 18-13 record; it was the Celts first winning season in their short history. St. Thomas has improved every season, going 10-15 and 13-14 in the first two years. It was also UST’s first year in the Red River Athletic Conference, where it finished 16-8 and tied for fourth with Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
Due to playing so many conference games, the Celts opened the season with an 80-75 win at Langston University, a RRAC foe. A four-game winning streak at the end of January marked the longest winning streak of the season. A tough, non-conference slate included perennial National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics power Oklahoma City University, NCAA Division II St. Edwards University and cross-town big-boy Rice University. The Celts again fought hard versus the Owls, but eventually dropped an 81-67 battle.
The high point of the season occurred on Dec. 17 when the Celts knocked out then-No. 7 Texas Wesleyan University for the second year in a row. St. Thomas jumped on the Rams from the tip and never looked back, winning 79-58. League Champion Our Lady of the Lake University rolled into Houston Dec. 30 with first place of the league on the line; both teams were 5-0. Unfortunately, the Saints walked out of Jerabeck Center with a 92-78 win.
It was a tight conference race until UST had its toughest road tests of the year when the Celts dropped consecutive 3-point games at OLLU and TWU. After the Celts won at Bacone College and Jarvis Christian College, they had to travel to Shreveport, La. for another Top 20 road test at LSU-Shreveport. The Pilots squeaked out a 65-61 victory. Paul Quinn College came to town for the final regular season contest of the year, and the Celts finished strong with a 72-43 victory.
Red River Athletic Conference
Unfortunately, the fourth place conference finish meant the team faced a RRAC first-round tournament game against the host Lions of SAGU. Leading 60-59 with a minute to play, junior Caleb Williams missed an 8-foot baseline jumper to go up 3. The Lions responded with an old-fashioned 3-point play. St. Thomas turned the ball over on the ensuing possession and the game and season was over for St. Thomas.
As a team, UST finished eighth in the country in Assist/Turnover Ratio. The Celts were 14th in Assists per game with 15.8 and 17th in 3-point field goals made per game with 7.5. The Celts were 23rd in the nation in points allowed per game at 65.8. This makes the second year in a row that the team has finished in the top 25 in Scoring Defense. With great defense and a team that takes care of the ball, it is not surprising the team had a great year.
Individually, seniors Jeremy Lewis and Anthony Medina led the team in scoring at 14 and 11 points per game, respectively. Medina, 21st in the nation with 2.433 3-pointers made per game, was the team leader with 76 made 3-pointers while Lewis was 2nd in the same category with 59. Lewis was voted to the Red River All-Conference 2nd team and Medina was Honorable Mention all-conference. Junior Travis Lampley led the team with 212 assists, placing him 4th in the country in both Total Assists and assists per game. Lampley also led the team with 158 rebounds helping him to being named to the Red River All-Conference 1st Team. Juniors Barrett Lauer (4 points per game) and Caleb Williams (8 points per game) started every game. Andrew Graves and Adrian Morales, also both juniors, chipped in 7.4 and 6.8 points per game respectively. Freshman Deric Dudley, averaged 17 minutes per game and contributed enough to claim the Re River Freshman of the Year award. Sophomore Posts Henoc Jean and Nate McAnelly rounded out the rotation and gave Coach Smith the flexibility to play any big men at any time.
With redshirts Bryan Kaase, who started every game as a sophomore, and Patrick Graves returning for the 2012-13 season the Celts should be able to build on their first winning season.