For the second time this season, the Central Christian College men's basketball team played the role of David against Goliath. A couple of weeks ago, the Tigers took down the nationally ranked OCU stars on their home floor, putting the SAC on notice. On Saturday, they did it again, this time at home against the SAC's top ranked team the USAO Drovers, who came into the game ranked 7th in the latest NAIA top 25 poll. The Tigers exploded for 55 points in the second half to win convincingly 85-67.
Both teams got off to a slow offensive start. At the midway point of the opening half, the two teams had combined for just 21 points. It was neck and neck throughout the opening 20 minutes of action and the scoring picked up as the half wore on. As the teams headed into the locker rooms at the halftime intermission, the Tigers held to a slim one point lead, 30-29.
As mentioned earlier, the second half the Tigers' offense hit a different gear. They continued to play solid defense, but on the offensive end of the floor, shots that weren't falling in the first half, started to go through in the second. Paul Ard II, got it going for the Tigers in the second half. He scored 19 of his game high 24 points in the second frame, 12 of them coming on three pointers. He wasn't the only one to hit from behind the arc. After going 1 for 16 from downtown on Thursday against MACU, the Tigers got back on track with 9 three pointers against USAO, 6 of them coming in the second half.
To go along with the second half offensive explosion, the Tigers coupled it with one of their best defensive performances of the season. The Tigers won the rebounding battle 44-43, and forced the Drovers into 15 turnovers, but the biggest stat to jump off the box score was in the blocks column. The Tigers recorded a season high 13 blocks, led by Kendric Warren, who set a new school record for blocks in a game with 8.
Ard, led all scorers in the game with 24 points. He was joined in double figures by 3 other Tigers. Cam Martin played a superb game from the point guard position. He played 36 of the 40 minutes, scoring 15 points and dishing out 8 dimes. TJ Williams was also in double figures, coming off the bench to add 13 points, going 3 of 6 from the floor, and 6 of 8 from the charity stripe. Rounding out the double figures scorers was Jubril Osagie. Osagie didn't score in the first half, sitting out most of the half with two fouls. He came out eager in the second half, knocking down 5 of 6 shots and finishing with 10 points. Warren came up just shy of a triple double. He finished with 8 points, 11 rebounds, to go along with his 8 blocks.
"Man, what an effort from our guys tonight", said Central head coach Tony Romero. "Kendric [Warren] had a monster game for us, he really anchored our defense. I thought Antonio [Daniels] came in and played big the first half when Jubril [Osagie] got in foul trouble. Cam [Martin] and TJ [Williams] did great directing our offense, Paul [Ard] had a big offensive game, LaDarius [Lenard] played unbelievable defense on their top guy."
With the win, the Tigers stay two games above .500 at 12-10. They move into 9th place in the SAC standings with a 5-9 record. They will go on the road next weekend at Wayland Baptist and Panhandle State for two important SAC games.