Defense Carries Bulldogs to their 11th Straight Win


 

 

Feb. 2, 2013

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RUSTON, La. - The Louisiana Tech defense forced 20 turnovers and Raheem Appleby netted a team-high 15 points as the Bulldogs extended their winning streak to 11 games by defeating UT Arlington 64-51 on Saturday night in the Thomas Assembly Center in front of a season-high crowd of 5,024 fans.

Just like in their first meeting almost a month ago, the game was a defensive battle from end to end, but LA Tech (19-3, 10-0 WAC) was able to knock down a few more shots as all 11 players who saw playing time scored.

"[UT Arlington] is one of the best in the country in terms of their field goal percentage defense, and they play hard as heck," said head coach Michael White. "They are very, very physical, and I'm happy that we withstood a couple of runs. We took care of the ball versus their pressure. I thought we executed pretty well at times and, defensively, I thought that we were pretty good. Our crowd was terrific and was a big factor in the game tonight, and I am very appreciative to all the Bulldog fans who came out. It was a great environment."

The Bulldogs quickly jumped out to a 10-2 lead after Cordarius Johnson opened the night with a three-pointer and Appleby had a breakaway dunk off a steal, forcing a UT Arlington (10-9, 5-5 WAC) timeout.

"I thought it was huge, especially for Cordarius and Raheem who have struggled at times with their percentages," said White about the early advantage. "To get those guys going a little bit, obviously gave them confidence, but also gave the rest of the guys in our rotation a little bit of confidence to get us off to a good start against a team that will just fight you on every possession."

After stretching the lead out to 14, 23-9, midway through the first half, the Mavericks closed out the stanza on a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to five entering halftime.

The defensive pressure by the `Dogs kicked into another gear in the second half, not allowing a UTA made field goal until the 11:16 mark.

By then, LA Tech had extended their lead back out to double digits, 46-36, and the Mavericks never got any closer with the lead ballooning to as much as 16 for the home squad.

Neither team got into an offensive rhythm in the last 20 minutes as they each shot only 30 percent from the field. However, the Bulldogs were able to gradually pull away by converting more from the foul line, going 22-of-28 for the game for 78.6 percent.

LA Tech's impressive three-point defense continued as the Mavericks shot just 1-of-12 from beyond the arc.

"My staff does a great job and our kids did a really good job of making just a couple of mental adjustments because there were possessions where UTA really attacked our press and hurt us," said White. "Overall, the defensive effort to start the second half, the mentality that we came out with out of the locker room, was something that got us going that really led us in the second 20 minutes. The way we came out and defended, to get stops early, was the key to the game."

To go along with Appleby, Johnson also scored in double digits adding 12 points along with a career-high four steals.

Three different Bulldogs had at least two blocks led by Michale Kyser who registered four rejections.

UT Arlington was led by Brandon Edwards who led all scorers and rebounders with 17 points and nine rebounds. Greg Gainey also added 10 points for the Mavericks.

Louisiana Tech returns to action Thursday, Feb. 7, as they face off with UTSA in a 7 p.m. tipoff in the Thomas Assembly Center.

For complete coverage of LA Tech Men's Basketball, please follow @LATechHoops on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at www.LATechSports.com.