Three nights after surrendering a late lead to Alexandria and potentially opening the door to a three-way tie in district with West Monroe and Alexandria, (22-5, 8-1) Ouachita could not afford a slipup on its home court against the (20-6, 5-3) Rebels.
Leading 47-41 with less than a minute to play, Ouachita head coach Jeremy Madison motioned to his senior point guard Jamal Davis and mouthed, “Go get the ball!”
Davis did exactly that, drew the fouls and sunk five free throws in the fourth quarter to secure a 51-46 Lion victory.
“He played 31-and-a-half minutes,” Ouachita head coach Jeremy Madison said. “I can’t really give him a break. He’s our best ball-handler and best free throw shooter. I’m on him hard, but he’s very receptive of it. I’m proud of the way he played.”
Ouachita rallied in the second half to beat West Monroe just days after suffering its first district loss in years. It was that loss, though, that Madison felt helped secure the hard-fought victory Friday night.
“(The team) was very receptive. They understood what we did wrong,” Ouachita head coach Jeremy Madison said. “We took a 14-1 lead against ASH and had the game won down the stretch, but we turned the ball over bad. Actually, I think that game helped us tonight. West Monroe played great, and down the stretch, we needed to take care of the ball and make free throws.”
Quez Owens led the Lions with 14 points and scored six of those points in the third quarter, as the Lions outscored West Monroe 10-6 in the third. After Davis knocked down an in-bound corner 3-pointer late in the quarter, the Lions took the lead for good and coasted with free throws in the fourth quarter. Still, the victory was a much different one than the 51-36 win in January.
“They made some great adjustments,” Madison said. “They played better defense and attacked us on offense. It’s hard to beat a team twice in that short of a span. I’m proud of our guys.”
The Lions had the benefit of starting the game with two free throws and possession after West Monroe drew a technical foul for a pregame dunk. Ouachita took advantage as free throws followed by a Matt Hayman field goal gave the Lions a 4-0 lead seconds into the district clash.
West Monroe went on a 12-3 run over the next several minutes of the quarter, though. Davis hit two 3-pointers for the Lions in the quarter, but the Rebels kept the other Lions at bay.
Seven Rebels scored in the first quarter alone, as West Monroe took a 16-10 advantage into the second quarter.
Ouachita’s Quez Owen rallied the troops. Showcasing his hangtime on an and-one, followed by multiple jumpers throughout the quarter, Owens scored seven points to regain the lead for the Lions.
However, West Monroe ended the half on an 8-1 run thanks to a step-back 3-pointer from Jalen White, a Dontrell Cobbs jumper and a high-arching Jerry Day 3-pointer with three seconds remaining. That allowed the Rebels to take a 27-23 lead into halftime.