Bulldogs Solid Defensively in 51-45 Win over Georgia State

Freshman Lonnie Smith scored 14 points on Saturday.
 
Freshman Lonnie Smith scored 14 points on Saturday.
 

Feb. 19, 2011

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RUSTON - Junior forward Olu Ashaolu recorded his 15th double-double of the season as the Louisiana Tech men's basketball team defeated Georgia State in its ESPN BracketBusters game on Saturday at the Thomas Assembly Center.

The win improved the Bulldogs to 12-16 overall as well as 5-3 in ESPN BracketBuster games while the Panthers fell to 11-16.

"I'm really proud of the guys," said head coach Kerry Rupp. "We've regrouped and re-circled the wagons. We battled, fought and did a good job defensively. Georgia State did a good job pressuring us and we did a good job responding to that pressure."

The Panthers' 45 points was a season-low for a Tech opponent this season. Also, the Bulldogs' 51 points was their lowest amount in a win since winning 51-48 at Hawai'i on March 3, 2006.

Ashaolu recorded 18 points on 4-of-9 shooting and 11 rebounds for the 26th double-double of his career.

Freshman guard Lonnie Smith scored 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Tech's other freshman guard, Kenyon McNeail, also scored in double-digits with 10 points to go with five rebounds and three assists.

Prior to this game, Tech had held a double-digit first half lead in three of its last four games and lost. The Bulldogs ended the bad habit on Saturday as they had a 13 first half lead over the Panthers, but held on for the win.

Tech scored 11 unanswered points to take an early 21-8 lead with 9:48 remaining in the half. The Bulldogs then went on a scoring drought as the Panthers closed the half on a 15-5 run. Louisiana Tech led 26-23 at the half despite going the last 12:02 without a field goal.

Junior forward Romario Souza ended the field goal drought with a basket early in the second half. The Panthers took their first lead of the game, 32-31 at the 15:13 mark.

Tech retook the lead 34-32 as Ashaolu made a lay-up, was fouled and converted on the three-point play. Although GSU pulled to within one point with 2:24 remaining, the Bulldogs maintained the lead for the remainder of the game and hit some crucial free throws down the stretch. An Ashaolu dunk at the buzzer put an exclamation point on Tech's first win in four games.

Tech hit the free throws down the stretch, but overall struggled and hit 63.0 percent (17-27) from the line. Ashaolu was just 9-for-18 from the charity stripe.

"You got to knock down free throws," Rupp said. "We were very fortunate and lucky to pull away with a win after shooting free throws the way we did."

The Bulldogs shot 36.8 percent from the field while the Panthers shot 34.0 percent.

Nine GSU players scored at least two points with none of them getting more than eight. Jihad Ali led the Panthers with eight points and six rebounds.

Louisiana Tech resumes Western Athletic Conference play on Thursday at 11:30 p.m. CT at Hawai'i.