Hot-Shooting Bulldogs Defeat Chippewas

March 17, 2015

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RUSTON - Head coach Michael White picked up win No. 100 and Louisiana Tech extended its home winning streak to 30 by defeating Central Michigan, 89-79, on Tuesday night in front of 6,904 fans inside the Thomas Assembly Center.

With the victory, LA Tech (26-8) advances to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament for the third straight season and will now travel to take on the No. 2 seed Texas A&M at a date and time to be determined.

Any worry that coach White had before the game about the players energy level coming off the heartbreaking exit from the Conference USA Tournament went out the door in a hurry.

The game started with a classic alley-oop pass from Kenneth Smith to Michale Kyser, sending the eighth largest crowd in TAC history into an uproar.

The entire team ended up showing their grit, especially on the offensive end. The Bulldogs shot a season-best 57 percent from the field (33-of-58) and 58 percent from beyond the arc (11-of-19) and got a season-high 43 points from the bench.

"That was a really good win for us," White said after becoming just the ninth active head coach to reach 100 victories in his first four years. "I thought we played very well. That was as well as we have played offensively all year. Defensively, we had some breakdowns as I think most teams in the country would have trying, to defend Central Michigan. They are incredible offensively.

"The three seniors led us with mentality more than anything, in terms of taking advantage of playing in a prestigious tournament that does not happen to be the NCAA Tournament. These three guys were really down the past few days, but they showed their true colors and maturity tonight. I was really pleased with the way our supporting cast, supported these three seniors."

Central Michigan (23-9) was able to handle LA Tech's pressure early, taking a 12-6 lead, but the `Dogs went on an 8-0 run to pull ahead by two. After the game knotted up at 16-16, the home team began to slowly pull away thanks to the three-ball.

Jacobi Boykins came off the bench to hit back-to-back daggers to spark a 26-11 run to give the Bulldogs a 15-point advantage with 2:53 to go in the first stanza. The score settled on 45-33 at halftime after Raheem Appleby hit one of his four three-pointers.

LA Tech knew coming in no lead was safe against the 15th ranked scoring offense in the country in the Chippewas and it certainly was not. CMU's Braylon Rayson erupted for 12 points in the first eight minutes of the second stanza to pull the visitor to within five at 59-54.

The Bulldogs needed a big basket and got one from the freshman Boykins who calmly drained another three-pointer off one of Speedy's season-high 13 assists to stymy the run by Central Michigan.

"[Jacobi Boykins] was terrific," White said. "I thought we did a good job of finding him after he got into a rhythm. That is the benefit of having some experienced veteran guards. It was not just Speedy, Raheem found him a couple of times when he had space and probably could have squeezed one off but knew Jacobi had a hot hand. He is a really good shooter. He has size too, with a quick release. That was a glimpse of what he can become on a more frequent base in the future."

CMU then got to within four, 62-58 with 10 minutes left in the game, but instead of sending a dime to one of his teammates Speedy got in on the three-point action by hitting one of his own. That three was part of a 9-2 run that got the lead back to double digits where it stayed for the rest of the game.

The 89 points was the second most scored by the Bulldogs this season and the most they have scored at home. LA Tech is now a perfect 5-0 in home NIT games.

Appleby ended up leading all scorers with 22 points, the eighth time this season he has eclipsed 20 in a single game. Boykins added a career-high 18 off the bench.

Central Michigan came into the contest averaging 10.2 made three-point field goals per game, the third highest mark in the country. The Chippewas were limited to just 6-of-23 from three-point land for 26 percent. Their three guards each scored at least 18 points, led by Chris Fowler who netted 21.

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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