LUBBOCK, Texas (January 4, 2014) – A pair of free throws by Vadel Faniel of Texas A&M International with two seconds remaining allowed the Dustdevils' unbeaten Heartland Conference record to stay intact as Lubbock Christian suffered a tough 83-82 defeat Saturday afternoon at The Rip Griffin Center.
Anthony Brancato provided the Chaps (5-4, 1-3 Heartland) with a game and season-high 23 points while A.J. Luckey scored 16 and Eli Baker added 10. The squads showed nearly identical statistics, with each team shooting 24-of-49 from the field and hitting eight three-pointers. A combined 43 fouls were called in the contest, allowing TAMIU (11-3, 4-0 Heartland) to knock down 27 free throws and LCU to hit 26.
Jeremy Ford found Baker under the hoop with 3:38 on the clock in the second half for a bucket and a foul, and Baker's ensuing free throw put LCU on top 82-77. However, the next four offensive trips for the Chaps were unsuccessful, resulting in three missed shots and a turnover. The Dustdevils connected on a free throw and Deonnte Breedlove drained a crucial three-pointer with a minute on the clock to pull TAMIU close at 82-81. A missed shot by LCU permitted a Dustdevil timeout with 18 seconds remaining and Head Coach Todd Duncan followed with his own after seeing TAMIU's play setup. Kevin Jefferson drove into the lane for a short jumper, but Ford was there for the block, giving the Dustdevils the ball with four seconds left. On the next play, Ford was then called for a questionable foul under the hoop, sending Faniel to the line for the game-winning free throws.
The game started well offensively, as both teams were fruitful on their first four shot attempts. Brancato drilled two shots from beyond the arc within the first two minutes of the contest for a 10-9 Chap lead. A three by Breedlove gave the Dustdevils a 13-11 advantage, but Luckey hit a deep trey and Brancato provided another to put the Chaps on top, 20-15, with 14:13 to play.
At the 11:35 mark, LCU went on a scoring binge, starting with two buckets from Luckey in the lane and capped by four free throws, two each from Ondrej Gargula and Brancato for a 10-0 Chap run to extend the lead to 33-22, their largest of the game. But six points from Dustdevil Matthew Culliver, Jr., and two from Johnel Grey pulled TAMIU right back in the mix to whittle LCU's lead to 35-32 with six-and-a-half minutes left. The Chaps made their last 10 free throws of the half to go into the break with a 52-47 lead.
Faniel and Jefferson, Jr., each scored 17 for the Dustdevils. Matthew Culliver, Jr., and Grey tallied 11 apiece, and Breedlove added 10.
The Chaps have a quick turnaround, playing host to Arlington Baptist Monday at 7 p.m. in non-conference action.