Minutes after No. 2 West Monroe was stunned in a 66-64 loss to No. 31 Thibodaux, Ouachita clung to a two-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
Unaware of the fate of his district foe, (13-9) Ouachita head coach Jeremy Madison hammered home intensity and focus for his No. 10 Lions, and his Ouachita team answered the challenge with a 60-52 opening round victory against No. 23 East Jefferson.
"East Jefferson was not a typical No. 23 seed," Madison said. "They were very physical. They had some post guys that were hard to handle. We were able to adjust to it with some backside help."
The evolution of Ouachita's offense has seen this team go from an inexperienced, tentative group to a poised, efficient squad in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. Rashad Davis and James Ross made clutch baskets down the stretch that helped the Lions close out a hard-fought win.
"Early into the season we struggled in close games like this," Madison said. "Now I think that helped us to get to this point we're at now. We had timely baskets when we needed them."
Ross led the team with 13 points, while Davis added 12 points and Sterry Leonard contributed 10.
Up next for the Lions is a second-round matchup against No. 7 Alexandria Tuesday. The Lions defeated Alexandria 74-52 in the regular season.
"Obviously there's going to be some familiarity there," Madison said. "It's going to come down to which team executes."