Bulldogs Win C-USA Opener over Golden Eagles

Jan. 3, 2015

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - It was almost 43 years to the day the last time Louisiana Tech beat Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

That streak of eight straight losses ended on Saturday night in the Conference USA opener as the Bulldogs defeated the Golden Eagles, 83-70, in Reed Green Coliseum behind a season-high 30 points from Raheem Appleby.

LA Tech (10-4, 1-0 C-USA) took care of the basketball, turning the ball over just six times, and they also took the basketball away scoring 33 points off of 19 forced turnovers.

"The turnover margin was the biggest factor in the game which allowed us to win the game despite them shooting 63 percent and them making some tough shots," head coach Michael White said. "I thought Speedy's floor game that he played, 11 assists to one turnover, and Raheem Appleby's prolific scoring night, were huge.

"In addition to the 43 year drought and the 0-3 me and my seniors have experienced to this point, to be able to outrebound a Division I team and get that monkey off of our back as well, made for a pretty successful night. There were a lot of things we could have done better obviously, but to come to Hattiesburg to start your conference play and be 1-0, those are all positives."

Southern Miss (5-7, 0-1 C-USA) really packed it in the paint with their zone on defense. As a result, 13 of the first 18 shot attempts by the Bulldogs were from beyond the arc. Fortunately the three-pointers were falling early.

Mississippi native Xavian Stapleton got one of his five offensive rebounds and then nailed a three from the wing to give the `Dogs their first double-digit lead of the game, 24-14, with 10:42 left in the first half.

The Golden Eagles cut the deficit to five a couple of times, but on each occasion Appleby drained a three. The senior was simply on fire, finishing with 22 points in the first stanza to give LA Tech a 45-29 advantage at the break.

The Bulldogs cooled off to start the second stanza after USM backed out of its zone and went man-to-man. On the flipside, the Golden Eagles' offense was clicking on all cylinders. For the game they shot 63 percent from the field and 53 percent from three-point range, but the `Dogs answered the bell every time the home team made a run.

USM sliced the deficit to nine a few times and even got to within seven, 73-66, after a layup by Matt Bingaya. However, Alex Hamilton beat the shot clock with a rainbow three-pointer, his first of the game, to give LA Tech a 10-point advantage with 1:36 left.

The junior finished with 16 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Stapleton put on a show in front of his fans in attendance, hitting four three-pointers en route to 17 points to go along with a team-high six rebounds.

"Xavian [Stapleton] is growing up," White said. "He is becoming a more well-rounded player. For him to make shots on top of getting five offensive rebounds as well as the way he defended, shows that he is growing up as a freshman."

USM was led by Chip Armelin who scored a team-high 23 points. Matt Bingaya and Davon Hayes joined him in double figures with 18 and 10, respectively.

LA Tech continues its three game-road swing with an 8 p.m. CT matchup on Thursday, Jan. 8 at UTEP.

For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB) or visit the official website at LATechSports.com.




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