Maryville College celebrated the career of Head Coach Randy Lambert on Saturday afternoon, as more than 150 former players and coaches returned for the Lambert Legacy event.
The Scots fell in a heartbreaker, however, to USA South Athletic Conference foe Huntingdon College inside Boydson Baird Gymnasium, 61-54.
Lambert – who eclipsed the 700-win plateau last season – was honored on the court that bears his name.
"When I took this job 39 years ago, all I wanted to do was build on what a lot of the coaches had done before me," Lambert said. "Guys like Boydson Baird, who's so very special to me. J.D. Davis. Lombe Honaker. Sharon Brown. All the people who really helped pave the way for the coaches of today, they made our job so much easier. I tried to take what my parents had done for me, and what they taught me."
Lambert spoke highly of his parents, his family, his players and the fan base in his address to the crowd, offering thanks to what each had meant to him.
Maryville College offered him the same.
"Coach Lambert, on behalf of Maryville College, it is my privilege to say 'Thank you,'" Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart said during the event. "Thank you for coaching our basketball team. Thank you for serving as Athletics Director and setting the standard for excellence and success for the entire athletics program. Thank you for setting the example for personal excellence and integrity for our faculty, staff, students and the whole community."
During the celebration, cheers of "You're my hero, Randy!" echoed from the stands.
"Very low standards, I guess," Lambert joked back.
However, the 39-year veteran has not only raised the standards, but he's set them.
Since his first win – a 78-64 victory of Millsaps College on Dec. 6, 1980 – Lambert has amassed 716 career wins, becoming only the eighth coach in Division III men's basketball history to reach the milestone. He is only the fourth coach in all NCAA divisions to accomplish the feat at his alma mater.
Lambert has developed 40 All-Conference performers and five All-Americans in his Orange and Garnet tenure.
"It's great to see so many of the ex-players come back," Lambert told the media. "I'd like to think that today is really not about me, but it's about our program and what we've been able to do over – I hate to say it – the last four decades."
Lambert has managed 34 winning season in his storied career, while posting 19 total 20-win campaigns that included 12-straight 20-win seasons from 1998 through 2010. The head coach has 13 conference championships and 19 NCAA tournament appearances, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen on three occasions and the Elite Eight once.
"It's been very special," Lambert said. "To be able to think that you can really live out your dreams in your own back yard, it's been special. Maryville is home to me. I went to Maryville High School, and I attended and graduated from Maryville College. Just to think that I was able to come back here and do what I love to do most, and that is to coach young men and young women – I tried to help them pursue their dreams – it's been a lot of fun. We've had a lot of success, and it's been because of a lot of great players I've been able to coach and a lot of help along the way."
Scots fall to Huntingdon
Maryville fell to the Hawks during Saturday's game, however, as the Hawks took advantage of 20 second-chance points.
MC shot just 7-of-17 at the free-throw stripe, as they fell 61-54.
Huntingdon held a 29-22 lead at the half, as the Scots rallied from a 13-5 deficit early on. Maryville cut it to four on a Joshua Brooks jumper, before the Hawks closed the half on a 4-0 run with Kyante Pines making both baskets.
The Scots cut the game to two in the second half, but Huntingdon would hold on late for the USA South victory.
Maryville College (15-7, 11-4 USA South) posted a total of 14 blocks in the game, as Emier Bowman led the way with nine.
Joshua Brooks led the scoring column with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal, while Calvin Songster added 13 points on a trio of treys. Bowman had eight points to go with his nine swats, as he added four boards to his total.
Dante Hoppa had seven points and five rebounds, while Nick Clifton had five points and a pair of blocks. JP McGhee added four points and a team-high six rebounds, while Emanuelle Garcia had three points. Kaleb Estes had four assists and a block.
MC shot 21-of-55 (38.2 percent) from the floor, as they bucketed five treys at a 26.3 percent clip.
Huntingdon College (11-11, 8-7) shot 36.7 percent (22-of-60), while tallying a trio of 3-pointers at a 23.1 percent rate. The Hawks excelled at the charity stripe, going 14-of-19 for a 73.7 percent performance.
B.J. Barker led the way with 15 points and five rebounds, while Damien Madison added 10 points and six boards.
Maryville College will return to action on Sunday, Feb. 10, as they play host to LaGrange College. The Scots will honor the careers of their seven seniors before the 3 p.m. scheduled tipoff.