Jan. 25, 2013
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Louisiana Tech led by only five points at halftime, but erupted in the second half behind Raheem Appleby's game-high 17 points as the Bulldogs cruised to a 76-54 victory over San Jose State on Thursday night at the Event Center.
LA Tech (17-3, 8-0 WAC) extends their winning streak to nine games and remains in first place in the conference with an undefeated record while SJSU (9-10, 3-5 WAC) drops their fourth straight contest.
"I thought that our energy level and our defensive intensity was good in the first half," said head coach Michael White. I thought we were locked in and playing hard. I was pleased. I was displeased with nine first half turnovers. That's unlike us. We kind of reverted back to some early season poor decisions there offensively. But we settled down in the second half and only had four turnovers and continued to defend, and we got going a little bit offensively with making shots."
In the past two games, the Bulldogs had gotten off to sluggish starts that resulted in early double-digit deficits. Tonight though, the offense found some quick success, going on an 11-0 run to build a 16-7 lead after a breakaway slam by Alex Hamilton with 10:16 to play in the first stanza.
The turnover bug then struck the `Dogs, giving the ball up six times over the next five minutes of action which allowed the Spartans to tie the game up at 20-20.
With LA Tech leading 25-23 and only 36 seconds remaining in the first half, Kenneth Smith let the shot clock drain down to eight seconds before finding Appleby in the corner who nailed a three-pointer to send the Bulldogs into halftime with a five-point lead, 28-23.
"That was huge," said coach White. "It got [Raheem] going and it was a great look. You want to have a few seconds to get your guys an opportunity to get on the offensive glass, but you don't want to go too early to where they can get into some offense. We wanted the last shot. He stepped up and then he hit two more threes off a couple of good screens in the second half."
Two consecutive three-pointers by Appleby and Brandon Gibson within the first two minutes out of the break pushed the Bulldog lead to double-digits for the first time in the contest.
The lead hovered between five and ten until the 14:21 mark when Appleby really started to heat up and the Bulldog defense started to wear down the Spartans.
The Jacksonville, Ark. native scored 11 of his 17 points over the next nine minutes as LA Tech gradually increased their lead to its max of 66-43 with 4:39 remaining in the game.
Freshman Alex Hamilton, who is playing more and more like a veteran these days, was a contributor in every way possible during the 32-14 run and beyond.
Four of his career-high eight assists came in the final 2:15 of the game as the Bulldogs sealed their fifth straight road win. He also added 15 points, six rebounds and four assists to his all-around effort.
"He's just a talented playmaker," said White. "He's got real quick hands and quick feet. We set a ton of ball screens for him tonight. Our bigs did a good job of freeing him up in space and letting him make plays in the paint. Eight assists to one turnover, we'll take that every night from our point guard play."
Gibson was the third Bulldog in double figures tonight with 13 points.
Even though San Jose State came into the matchup as the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the league, LA Tech dominated the glass to the tune of a 40-25 rebounding advantage and only allowed three offensive boards to SJSU.
"We pride ourselves on flying to the offensive glass and obviously, San Jose State does too," said White. "I just thought we stepped up in that area tonight. Our guys just played very physical and gave their bodies up. We talk about blocking out every day and this is as well as we've done all year."
The Bulldogs shot 44.6 percent from the field for the game with the starters and the bench each scoring 38 points.
The Spartans were led by Aalim Moor who came off the bench to lead the team with 14 points.
The Bulldogs now head to Logan, Utah where they will face the Utah State Aggies on Saturday night, Jan. 26, in an 8:05 p.m. CT tipoff.
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