LUBBOCK, Texas (February 1, 2014) – Lubbock Christian took down second-place University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, 85-82, in which Tyler Rogers tied a career-high with 21 points, Anthony Brancato tallied 16, Isaac Cardona recorded 14 and Jeremy Ford added a dozen on Saturday afternoon at The Rip Griffin Center to complete a weekend sweep for the Chaps, winners in five of their last six contests.
Double-double machine Eli Baker was held to nine points and seven rebounds on 4-of-15 shooting, but his teammates picked up the slack, shooting 51 percent from the field, dishing out 18 assists and committing a season-low seven turnovers.
With 1:09 remaining in the contest, the Chaps (11-6, 6-5 Heartland) sent the Lions' 45 percent free throw shooter, Miha Glavas, to the charity stripe for two shots. After two misses, head coach Todd Duncan called a timeout with 47 ticks left on the clock, setting up Brancato for a baseline drive where he drew a foul and hit both free throws for an 82-77 Chap lead. A blocking foul was called on Cardona on the other end, sending Seth Youngblood to the line, where he hit both freebies to cut LCU's to 82-79 with 29 seconds to play.
A Cardona free throw seconds later gave the Chaps a four-point cushion, and Baker stifled a shot by Lion Alex Cooper, sending it into stands for perhaps Baker's biggest play of the night. After a timeout, sharpshooter Youngblood, who had connected on six threes in the game, went up for a triple and Brancato was unable to avoid him after his release, forcing the official to whistle a foul. Youngblood sank all three to close the gap to 83-82 with seven seconds remaining. Rogers was fouled in the backcourt and hit both free throws, giving the Lions (15-4, 8-3 Heartland) one final attempt to tie the game, but Jake Toupal's shot was off the mark, giving the Chaps the victory.
Ford drained four three-pointers in the game, with his second make coming at 15:37 in the first half to put the Chaps up 14-11. A three by A.J. Luckey from the left side extended LCU's lead to 28-22, but the Lions quickly took the lead on a score in the paint by Bo Franklin, a jumper by Toupal and Youngblood's fifth three of the half.
The Chaps pulled to within 34-32 on a jumper by Beau Durham, but the Lions pieced together five points in a sole possession on Alex Cooper's three-pointer. Cooper was fouled on the shot, and Franklin was there to put in the missed free throw for a 39-32 Lion lead at the 3:41 mark. Glavas then went off for another five straight points for UAFS, increasing the lead to 44-34. Two jumpers and two free throws by Rogers along with a three-point play by Brancato sliced the Lions' lead to 47-43. A steal by Ford with seven seconds left led to a score by Baker to trim the Chap deficit to 47-45 before the half.
A touch pass in the lane from Cardona to Baker gave LCU its first lead of the second half at 56-55 with 15:50 left to play. An offensive board by Cardona led to his own three-pointer from the right baseline and a 65-60 LCU lead with 11:44 on the clock. Cardona found his comfort zone again from the right baseline, hitting two more jumpers within less than a minute to extend LCU's lead to 77-68. Six free throws by UAFS cut the lead to 79-74, and a jumper by Franklin with 2:53 remaining would end up being the final field goal for either team.
Youngblood scored a game-high 28 points, Franklin tallied 12, Glavas contributed 11 and Toupal added 10.
The Chaps look to extend their three-game win streak next week as they host Dallas Baptist on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Oklahoma Christian on Saturday at 3 p.m.