Feb. 9, 2008
RUSTON, La. - Despite having only eight healthy players in uniform and fighting foul trouble for much of the second half, a spirited effort and clutch free-throw shooting by the home team propelled Louisiana Tech to a 72-64 victory - its first in conference play under Kerry Rupp - over visiting Idaho on Saturday night at the Thomas Assembly Center.
"I was very pleased with our energy and enthusiasm tonight," Rupp said. "We thought we had to come out and play with a lot of heart. We knew this was a game where we couldn't leave anything out there at the end of the night. It was a great team effort tonight; this is the kind of team we have to be."
The Bulldogs (4-18, 1-9 WAC), without the services of junior forward Adrian Rogers, only managed 19 field goals in the contest but were solid at the charity stripe, knocking down 32 of 41 attempts in the contest, season-highs for the Bulldogs in both categories. Tech also kept up its scrappy defensive play, forcing Idaho (5-17, 2-9 WAC) into 27 turnovers while only committing 11.
Tech jumped out to an early 4-0 advantage only to see Idaho score the next seven points to take a three-point lead. But it would be the only time all night the Vandals would hold the advantage despite the Bulldogs going more than seven minutes between field goals at one point in the first half.
Neither team exactly put on a shooting clinic in the opening stanza as Tech shot 30.8 percent (8 of 26) and Idaho was not much better at 35 percent (7 of 20). But free throws would prove to be the difference early as Tech knocked down 15 of 18 attempts in the first half while Idaho only managed 7 of 17. As such, the Bulldogs took an eight-point lead to the break at 32-24.
A Drew Washington jumper got the Bulldog lead to 10 for the first time as the second half got underway. But Idaho would go on a 7-0 run, cutting the margin to 34-31 at the 14:27 mark. After the teams traded baskets, Tech would answer with a 7-0 run of its own to push its lead back to 43-33 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
Jonathan "JC" Clark led four Bulldogs in double figures with 16 points, his second-best output of the season. Dwayne Lathan added 14 off the bench and pulled down a career-high and team-best eight rebounds. Orren Tims had his third straight double-digit effort with 13 points, and Kyle Gibson added 10.
Idaho was led by Michael Crowell with 13 points while Terrence Simmons added 12 on 5-of-5 shooting. Mike Hall dropped in 11, and Jordan Brooks had 9 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out with 7:42 to play.
Louisiana Tech concludes its three-game homestand on Thursday, Feb. 14, as New Mexico State visits the Thomas Assembly Center for a 7 p.m. tip-off. The broadcast can be heard on ESPN 97.7 FM or by logging on to www.espn977.com. Live stats will be available through GameTracker at latechsports.cstv.com, and live video streaming can be viewed at www.latechtv.com.