Robinson III sparks first half dominance at Lamar, Charles sets career-high in win No. 100 under Slessinger
BEAUMONT, Texas – Where do we begin? Larry Robinson III sparked a 14-3 run in the first half and shined in overtime, Ezekiel Charles scored a career-high 22 points, the Privateers took 13 free throws in overtime, draining 11, after seven total in regulation, and the defense forced 20 Lamar turnovers in the 78-71 overtime over the Cardinals Wednesday evening in the Montagne Center.
With the win, the University of New Orleans (7-7, 2-1 Southland) improved to 2-1 in conference play, while Lamar fell to 8-8 overall and 1-2 in league action.
The win was No. 100 under head coach Mark Slessinger, who in true Sless fashion, credited his staff, all of his players during his tenure and the University of New Orleans.
ON TONIGHT’S WIN
“Ezekiel Charles was a leader and he came up huge for us,” said Slessinger. “I’m so proud of the way they played, and we counted on everyone to contribute. Everyone stepped up. It’s a blessing a true testament to everyone that has played and supported our vision. I’m so honored to represent the city of New Orleans, the University of New Orleans and the Privateers.”
The Privateers handed Lamar its first home loss this season. The Cardinals began the year 7-0 in Beaumont.
UNO finished 15-of-20 from the free throw line and Lamar was 24-of-39 from the line. New Orleans scored 21 points off turnovers.
Four players reached double figures, led by Charles’ 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds and three assists. Bryson Robinson added 18 points and three assists, Damion Rosser came up with two huge blocks late and finished with 11 points, four rebounds and three blocks and Gerrale Gates posted 11 points and five rebounds. Robinson III played in a season-high 19 minutes and contributed four assists and three assists.
Charles’ tip-in with .3 seconds (changed to 1.6 following replay) forced overtime and the Privateers outscored the Cardinals 18-to-7 in the OT.
Robinson drained a triple seconds after the tip. Rosser followed with a steal and block, sandwiched by a layup to highlight a 10-5 UNO lead prior to the opening media timeout.
With just under 12 minutes remaining in the frame, walk-on Robinson III checked in and took over, sparking the Privateers to a 14-3 run to extend their lead to 26-12 at the under-eight media. Charles was the first to reach double figures with his third triple of the stanza giving him 11 points.
Lamar cut the UNO lead to five at the break despite shooting 34.6 percent from the floor behind Christian Barrett’s 12 points and five rebounds. Barrett was 6-for-8 from the charity stripe and as a team, the Cardinals went 11-of-13 at the line, while the Privateers did not attempt a free throw in the first half.
Charles was the Privateers leader with 11 points and four rebounds and added three assists. Robinson III finished the half with four assists and three steals. Bryson Robinson posted six points, as did Gates.
The Cardinals looked sloppy with 11 turnovers in the frame. Much like the first two Southland games, the Privateers dominated early with a double-digit lead. Through the first three games of the Southland gauntlet, New Orleans has led/tied the entire first half.
Poised to extend the lead back to double figures, UNO scored in bunches early with Jahmel Myers’ steal leading to a Bryson Robinson trey as B. Rob joined Zeke in double figures with 10. On the ensuing Lamar possession, Bryson Robinson drew a charge and Charles followed with his first triple of the second to make it 40-29 New Orleans.
The Cardinals chipped away to cut the UNO lead to five, but Gates went 1-for-2 from the line with 13:08 to go to make it 47-41 Privateers. The free throws were the first and second attempts of the game for the Blue and Silver.
Lamar made it a one-possession game with 10:04 to go, scoring nine points to UNO’s one in a six-minute span. Charles ended the Cardinals run and gave the Privateers a 49-44 cushion with a pair of free throws at the 9:41 marker.
With 6:23 remaining, Laquarious Paige hit a corner three to tie the game at 52-all, knotting the game for the first time since the opening tip. Josh Nzeakor went to the line with 6:00 and made the first of two, putting Lamar in front for the first time. V.J. Holmes made one-of-two to give LU a two-point lead.
Charles cleaned up a miss with a put back slam to erase the brief Lamar lead and even the score at 50-all. An offensive foul led to a Gates score as the freshman put the Privateers back in front 56-54 with 4:16 to go. He became the third New Orleans student-athlete to reach double figures.
An and-one heading into the final media was crucial as an already short-handed Privateers squad lost Myers and Gates (fouled out).
Checking back in and putting UNO back in the lead was Green, who drove to the basket for the strong finish with 3:02 left to play. Lamar went 1-of-2 and followed with a layup to cross the two-minute mark with a one-point lead.
Lamar pressured and Paige went to the line with 18.1 ticks following his fourth steal for two shots and a two-possession game. Paige missed both and the Privateers called a timeout with 13.1 to draw up a play.
A driving Harrison floated a shot and the Privateers were able to get a second and third chance with Charles cleaning up the glass with .3 left to make it 60-60. The put back tied his career-high of 20 points (third time this season). The officials added time (1.6) but the Cardinals did not run a play as UNO forced overtime for the second consecutive game.
UNO took an early lead on Rosser’s free throws and the lead was extended on Harrison’s triple from the top of the key. The story was the final two minutes, with UNO silencing the Montagne Center faithful on Rosser’s block, Robinson III’s steal and Robinson’s and-one with 1:51 remaining, putting the Privateers in front by five.
Moments later, Charles set a new career-high with 22 points. With just under a minute, Rosser swatted away his third shot.
The Privateers made 11 of their 15 free throws in overtime to improve to 2-1 in conference play with the 78-71 victory.
The Privateers host McNeese State University Saturday at 4:15 p.m. at Lakefront Arena.
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