Clutch Free Throws Propel Bulldogs to 71-66 Win Over Monarchs


 

 

Feb. 22, 2014

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NORFOLK, Va. - There are many different ways to win a basketball game.

Louisiana Tech was determined to find one on the road in a hostile environment and it was at the free throw line where they went 28-of-34, including eight straight in the final 50 seconds, to come away with a 71-66 win over Old Dominion on Saturday night inside the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

The driving duo of Chris Anderson and Alex Hamilton was a huge part of the success at the charity stripe, each going 8-of-9.

Anderson kept the Bulldogs in it in the first half with 12 of his 19 points and Hamilton delivered in the second half with 13 of his team-high 20 points.

They each knocked down two free throws after ODU had cut the deficit down to three, 63-60, with 49 seconds remaining, but finishing the game off was senior guard Kenyon McNeail who went nothing but net on four free throws to seal the victory.

"I thought our physical and mental effort was as good as it has been all year," said head coach Michael White. "We overcame a good night from Old Dominion and a really good defensive performance by Old Dominion. We were able to get to the foul line a bunch and really limited our turnovers and fight as hard as we have all year to come up with a split on the road."

With the victory and the way all the Conference USA games shook out, LA Tech (22-6, 10-3 C-USA) is now in a four-way tie for second place with three regular season games remaining.

The Bulldogs started the game much like Thursday against ECU, shooting just 4-of-21 from the field and 0-of-8 from three, but effort and physicality was there for the entire 40 minutes and helped generate 17 points off of 14 forced turnovers.

Old Dominion (13-15, 7-6 C-USA) managed to build a seven-point lead with 5:56 left in the first stanza, but the Bulldogs closed the period out strong to have the game knotted up at half, 30-30.

LA Tech continued that momentum as they came out firing on all cylinders on both ends of the floor. They forced three turnovers in the first four minutes of the second stanza.

One of them was forced by Michale Kyser who leaped high into the air and grabbed a steal with his long wingspan, and then the ball found Hamilton on the wing who drained a three to give the `Dogs a 43-34 advantage.

"Alex Hamilton played really well," said White. "He defended at a higher level. He rebounded the ball well and he made some big plays for us offensively that were obviously, very much needed against a terrific defensive ball club."

With the lead sliced to six, ODU went on an 8-0 run to retake the lead, 51-49, on a layup by Denzell Taylor. However, LA Tech responded with a 10-0 run of their own to have an eight-point edge with 3:32 left to go and held on.

The `Dogs shot 50 percent from the field in the second half to finish 19-of-54 for the game, only five coming via three-pointer.

McNeail recorded his fourth straight double-digit scoring game with 14 points. Jaron Johnson added 10.

The floor general Kenneth Smith, who missed a chunk of the first half due to an injury, came back in to deliver eight assists which moved him into second place all-time in career assists at LA Tech.

The Monarchs were anchored by Aaron Bacote who registered a game-high 25 points.

LA Tech returns home for Senior Night on Thursday, Feb. 27 against league-leader Middle Tennessee with tipoff set for 6:30 p.m. A win would move the Bulldogs into a tie for first-place in the conference standings.

"We certainly hope to have our biggest crowd and most energetic crowd of the year on Thursday night as we fight for a chance at a Conference USA championship and as we send four incredible seniors out, hopefully, the right way," said White.

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