Bulldogs Make it a Three-Peat

Feb. 28, 2015

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RUSTON - Louisiana Tech made it a three-peat on Saturday night by clinching at least a share of the Conference USA regular season title and winning its 28th consecutive game in the Thomas Assembly Center by outlasting UTSA, 76-66, in front of 5,238 fans.

The victory to seal the third straight title, something that has only ever been done one other time in the program's history, did not come easy as LA Tech's (23-7, 14-3 C-USA) 12-point advantage in the second half was erased by UTSA (13-14, 7-9 C-USA) who took a one-point lead with 8:54 to play.

However that was when a couple of seniors really took charge. Kenneth Smith hit back-to-back three-pointers and Michale Kyser was on the receiving end of back-to-back alley-oop dunks.

Speedy would later hit a running floater in the paint to spark a 10-0 run late to notch the 15th victory in the TAC this season, a new program record, and give the Bulldogs a chance in the regular season finale to win their first outright title since 1999.

"It was an ugly win for us," head coach Michael White said. "In terms of details, we were not at our best, but I would like to credit UTSA. I thought their changing of zones and their zone effectiveness was really good. I thought they came here and played extremely hard. I thought the turning point was getting some stops late and finding a half court rhythm defensively. Those couple of dunks off of turnovers and Speedy's two three-pointers against the zone really helped us settle in against that zone.

"If you had asked me three years ago if we were going to win a championship in the next three years, I would have told you a lot of things would have to happen for us and we would have to get a lot better. It does not happen very often, especially in college basketball. It speaks to the consistency of the seniors and the tremendous staffs that I have had, as well as how good the players are. I am just blessed to be a part of it."

UTSA took an early 14-13 lead on a made layup by Jeromie Hill, but that was the only basket in the first stanza the star forward would get as LA Tech then went on an 11-0 run generated by five forced turnovers to grab a 10-point advantage.

The Bulldogs ended up forcing a total of 11 turnovers in the first half to help pull together a 34-25 advantage at halftime.

Alex Hamilton hit a contested three-pointer and then connected on a fast break layup after one of Kyser's season-high nine rejections to grab a 43-31 lead with 16:50 to go, forcing a Roadrunner timeout.

From there, Keon Lewis put UTSA on his back by scoring seven points, including an NBA-range three-pointer, to give the road team its first lead, 53-52, since early in the first half.

The lead changed hands a couple of times before Speedy and Kyser nearly brought the house down with daggers from beyond the arc and rim-shaking slams.

The Bulldog defense came alive and brought the win home late with stops, holding the Roadrunners to just one made field goal in the final four minutes of action.

"Our crowd was incredible, they were just awesome," White said. "They continue to be a big help to us. I hope they know how appreciative I am and our players are that they continue to come out and help us win. This championship is special for our guys, especially our seniors. I want our fans to know how big a part of it they were tonight and the past three years."

It was a balanced scoring attack on offense for the `Dogs as all five starters scored in double figures for the first time this season - Erik McCree (16), Hamilton (15), Raheem Appleby (12), Smith (12) and Kyser (10).

Kyser had one of his best performances as a Bulldog, adding nine blocks and a team-high eight rebounds to his double-digit points. The team ended up shooting 29-of-63 from the field for 46 percent.

UTSA was led by Lewis who poured in a game-high 26 points on 24 shot attempts. Ryan Bowie, Kaj-Bjorn Sherman and Hill joined him in double figures.

LA Tech concludes the regular season on Thursday, March 5 when they take on Southern Miss at 7p.m. in the TAC. For the three seniors it will be their last home game which will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.

For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB) or visit the official website at LATechSports.com.

 

 

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