BATON ROUGE – In a season that hasn’t gone accordingly it wasn’t hard for Live Oak basketball coach John Capps to embrace his team’s 58-57 road win Thursday over Broadmoor.
The victory equaled the Eagles season-high, three-game win streak and atoned for a 35-34 loss to the Buccaneers in the season opener.
“It’s good enough, we’ll take it,” Capps said. “We’re trying to get to that 32 seed, so this will help us in that pursuit. The bottom line is there was a ball out there, there were lines and officials and we have to handle what we can handle and play better.”
Capps’ sense of urgency was understandable, watching his team lose an eight-point lead in the third quarter, only to rally in the final three minutes of play – complete with four free throws from Darian Ricard – going into Friday’s 7 p.m. home game with University High (17-2).
“I’m not happy with the defensive effort,” he said. “I thought they wanted it more and they were the more aggressive team and that can’t happen. We’ve got to be one of those teams that brings it every night and after the first quarter I don’t think we really did that.
“Credit to them, they played extremely hard,” Capps said of Broadmoor, which trailed his team 23-15 at halftime. “We’ve got to do better. I told the guys if we play with that effort (against U-High) it’s not going to be good. I think there was a little bit of a hangover after the big win (67-64 over Lakeshore) Tuesday. We’ve got to learn. We’ve got to be better. We’re not just going to show up and beat people.”
Senior guard Lawrence Pierre scored a game-high 20 points, but there were several other key contributions that helped seal the victory, including nine points each from Byron Smith and Ahmad Pink
After Broadmoor took its first lead at 42-41 with 4:50 remaining, Smith gave Live Oak the lead for good with the first of back-to-back 3-pointers with 2:46 left.
Smith ended his team’s 0-for-12 stretch from the 3-point line with a 3-pointer for the Eagles, who built a 32-24 lead with just under three minutes left in the third quarter when Amar Pink fed Bret McCoy for layup and Pierre completed a spin move in transition.
Live Oak maintained an eight-point margin with 2:23 left on a pair of free throws from Pierre when Broadmoor finished the quarter on a 10-4 run, reducing the Eagles lead to 36-34 heading into the fourth quarter.
Broadmoor guard Deonte Comager scored all 11 of his points in the final quarter, including a trio of 3-pointers, that gave the Buccaneers their first lead of the game at 42-41 with 4:50 to play.
The game was tied twice at the 3:30 and 2:25 mark, respectively, when Smith made his second straight 3-pointer on an assist from Pierre for a 51-48 lead with 2:16 remaining.
“My teammates told me to keep shooting and that it would go in eventually,” Smith said. “When Lawrence and Darian penetrated and kicked it out to me, I was confident that I was going to knock it down.”
Live Oak, which shot 41% (18 of 44) and had 13 turnovers, increased its lead to 54-50 on a free throw from Pierre, but Broadmoor scored on an offensive follow and called timeout to set up its full-court pressure.
The Eagles were successful in getting the ball across midcourt and took some time off the clock when Ricard, who hadn’t scored in the game, calmly made a pair of free throws with 14.6 seconds showing for a 56-52 lead.
The Buccaneers cut it to 56-54, fouled Ricard who drained a pair of free throws with 8.0 seconds left for a 58-54 margin, enabling the Eagles to withstand a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We never let their momentum and run get to us,” Ricard said. “We stayed together as a team and overcame their run. I had a bad game. I just had to pull it together, get it through my mind that the game wasn’t over and do what I had to do to get the win.”