Hamilton Lifts Bulldogs over Blue Raiders, 75-68
Jan. 17, 2015
RUSTON - Kenneth Smith and Michale Kyser have done their fair share of record breaking this season, but on Saturday evening in front of 6,214 fans in the Thomas Assembly Center it was Alex Hamilton doing the breaking.
Hamilton tied his season-high with 30 points, which included a program record 20 made free throws, to lift the Bulldogs to a 75-68 victory over Middle Tennessee.
The 12th largest crowd in TAC history watched as the junior converted 20-of-23 from the charity stripe, helping to give LA Tech (14-4, 5-0 C-USA) its 22nd straight home win and to remain undefeated in league play.
"I cannot remember pre-season rankings but our staff and veterans knew that Middle Tennessee was going to be one of the better teams in the league," head coach Michael White said. "It is great to knock them off at home and continue to protect our home court. I am very thankful for all of the people that came out and provided this atmosphere. Our administration has done a great job collectively to continue to improve this environment and give us a great home court advantage."
Coming into the contest it was the highest scoring offense in C-USA in the Bulldogs going up against the second best scoring defense in C-USA in the Blue Raiders.
Middle Tennessee (10-8, 3-2 C-USA) came in as one of only three teams in the country to not allow 70 or more points in the game, but that streak came to a close thanks to Hamilton and Raheem Appleby who had a quiet 18 points.
The contest was eerily similar to last year's in that neither team could pull away from the other. The largest lead by either squad in the first half was four and the halftime score settling at 35-35, the 11th tie of the game up to that point.
At the start of the second stanza, foul trouble crept in for LA Tech as Erik McCree, Xavian Stapleton and Kyser all picked up their third foul. With Qiydar Davis out due to medical reasons, coach White then went small by putting in Dayon Griffin and Merrill Holden to go with Smith, Appleby and Hamilton.
After MT grabbed a 42-40 lead on a made jumper by JaQuel Richmond with 17:01 to play, the Bulldogs found the lineup they liked and went on a 17-2 run over the next eight minutes of action.
Through that duration, the defense held the Blue Raiders to just one made field goal and the offense only turned it over once after having turned it over an unprecedented nine times in the first half.
Middle Tennessee inched its way back into the game, trailing 68-64, with 1:57 remaining after an open three-pointer by Marcus Tarrance. However, on the next possession Hamilton beat a double team and took it to the rack for the old-fashioned three-point play.
"Alex Hamilton is as good as any other player I have coached at drawing fouls," White said. "He is a very quick thinker. He understands how to get fouled. It is paying off because he is cashing in a lot more. He is more productive in getting those points when getting to the line. I am happy for him because this was a game where we really needed it."
Griffin and Holden came in having totaled just 13 minutes of action combined in the past six games. Today the unsung heroes totaled 29 minutes while registering eight points, five rebounds, four blocks and zero turnovers.
"When we put Dayon out there, I thought we started containing the basketball a little bit better and started making some stops," White said. "When Michale got his third, we went with Merrill who has not had many opportunities this year. With Merrill and Dayon out there together, it proved to be our best defensive lineup."
LA Tech finished 23-of-54 (42.6 percent) from the field and 26-of-36 (72.2 percent) from the foul line. Other notables were Speedy who registered 10 assists and Kyser who swatted six balls.
MT was led by Richmond who tallied a team-high 14 points. Perrin Buford chipped in with nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Next up for LA Tech is a road matchup versus North Texas on Thursday, Jan. 22. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
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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