HOUSTON – The “Cardiac Cavaliers” held true to form Saturday in Texas. St. Gregory’s notched its third straight down-to-the-wire win – this time a 90-87 decision over St. Thomas-Houston.
Each of SGU’s five games this season have been decided by eight points or fewer – the last four by three points or less. After beginning the season with consecutive losses, the Cavs have clawed back to 3-2 with a trio of gut-wrenching victories.
Rodney Smith had a big part in Saturday’s triumph. After guiding his team to a win over rival Oklahoma Baptist last week, the senior posted a career-high 31 against the Celts. Smith finished 10-for-13 from the field and 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
SGU led by as many as 10 points in the first half – the final time at 42-32 after a pair of Jordan Rutherford free throws with 1:05 remaining in the period. UST rallied, though, reeling off a 22-4 run to end the first half and begin the second to go up 54-46 at the 14:34 mark.
The Cavs answered by scoring 19 of the game’s next 23 points over a span of just more than six minutes to regain the lead at 65-58 on a Michael Maras trey with 8:07 to play. UST clawed back to tie it on two more occasions – the final time at 83-all with 52 seconds remaining.
SGU got stops down the stretch, however, holding the home team to only one shot attempt in the final minute. Smith and Tyler Tucker salted it away at the free throw line, combining to go 7-for-8 as time wound down.
Tucker finished with a season-best 25 points – the fourth time in five games he’s scored 19 or more. Rutherford tallied 19 on a 6 of 9 afternoon from the field, and Maras poured in a career-best 13 points.
The Cavs shot a blistering 55 percent from the field while holding the Celts to 47 percent. SGU scored 18 points off 18 UST turnovers.
SGU hosts its annual Thanksgiving Classic next weekend at Sumner Field House against some stiff competition. The Cavs take on No. 24 LSU-Shreveport Friday and No. 14 Our Lady of the Lake Saturday.