Bulldogs Dominate the Paint, Secure First WAC Win

Kenyon McNeaill scored 21 points in the win over Idaho.
Kenyon McNeaill scored 21 points in the win over Idaho.

Jan. 27, 2011

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RUSTON, La. - Junior forward Olu Ashaolu recorded 24 points and 18 rebounds as the Louisiana Tech men's basketball team broke an eight-game losing streak with a 71-56 win over Idaho on Thursday at the Thomas Assembly Center.

Tech improved to 10-12 overall and 1-7 in the Western Athletic Conference. Idaho dropped its second-straight game and fell to 12-8 overall and 5-3 in the WAC.

The Bulldogs dominated the points in the paint, 36-16 and for the fourth-straight game had less turnovers than their opponent with 13 compared to the Vandals' 15. Tech also outrebounded Idaho 44-31.

"It was a hard fought game and it was one we needed," Tech head coach Kerry Rupp said. "Idaho is a very good team and they run their sets really well. Overall our coaching staff did a great job in preparation and keeping our guys focused so we could have a chance to compete."

It was Ashaolu's second-straight game with at least 20 points as he was 8-for-16 from the field. His 18 rebounds was a season high and he also led the team with three assits.

Freshman Kenyon McNeaill scored a career-best 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting including 2-for-5 from three-point range. He scored seven of the Tech's first nine points of the game.

"I thought Kenyon drove the pressure good tonight and had some good finishes," Rupp said. "He hit some open shots on the perimeter that we had to have."

Tech shot a season-high 87.5 percent (21-24) from the free-throw line and 40.7 percent from the field. The Bulldogs held the league's best shooting team to 38.2 percent shooting from the field, 42.1 percent (8-19) from three-point range and 46.2 percent (6-13) from the free throw line.

Tech held the lead for all but the first 2:23 of the game. The Bulldogs shot 35.3 percent and led at the half, 36-22. The 22 points given up was the lowest total for a Tech opponent since it held Houston to 19 on Nov. 17.

The Vandals opened the second half on an 11-1 run and cut the Tech lead to 37-33 with 17:37 remaining. The score remained within 10 points, without Idaho ever taking the lead for almost 12 minutes. J.L. Lewis grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a layup with 5:53 to play to extend the Bulldogs' lead to 62-51. Following a McNeaill free throw, Tech had a 71-54 lead, its largest of the game, with just under two minutes to play.

Junior forward Antwond Roshell scored four points and a career-best nine rebounds, six offensive.

"He did a good job until he got tired," Rupp said of Roshell. "I like the way he got the rebound and just dunked it. It's like what Bill Walton used to say, `Throw it down big fella, throw it down.' He's getting better everyday and he's working hard."

Jeff Ledbetter led Idaho with 20 points as he was 6-for-10 from three-point range. The Vandals are now 0-6 all-time in Ruston.

Louisiana Tech will next be in action on Saturday at 7 p.m. against Boise State.