Speedy's Putback Lifts Bulldogs to Thrilling 89-88 Win



March 19, 2014

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RUSTON - The Louisiana Tech track and field team is hosting a meet this weekend in Ruston, but there was a track meet that took place in the Thomas Assembly Center on Wednesday night.

LA Tech and Iona were at full sprint for much of the game and the Bulldogs found themselves down one with 12 seconds to go.

Deciding not to call a timeout, Kenneth Smith drove down and dished the ball off to Alex Hamilton who took a 12-foot jumper from the baseline that did not go.

However, Speedy crashed the boards and got the putback layup to fall with less than three seconds on the clock. A late desperation attempt by the Gaels rimmed out giving LA Tech an 89-88 victory to advance to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.

The crowd of 4,623 fans erupted in celebration after enduring a back-and-forth battle that saw the score tied up eight times and the lead change 14 times.

"We have played some really good offensive teams this year - including Oklahoma - and that was the best offensive team we have played this season," said head coach Michael White. "They make hard shots look easy. We never really got into a great defensive rhythm.

"It was a very good win for us. We played with some poise down the stretch. We got just a few stops that we were fortunate enough to get. I was very proud of our physical effort down the stretch because I know we were tired as fast as both teams were playing."

Six different Bulldogs finished with at least 12 points, led by Jaron Johnson and Kenyon McNeail who each had 15.

LA Tech (28-7) found itself down by as many as five, 81-76, with 5:52 to go in the game, but a layup by Alex Hamilton and then a steal by Speedy led to a game-tying three from J. Johnson.

The Bulldogs capped the 7-0 run to retake the lead on a backdoor cut up the baseline by Hamilton who flushed home the two-handed slam which forced an Iona (22-11) timeout.

The Gaels eighth three-pointer of the contest switched the lead back to the opposition less than a minute later. The two teams traded empty possessions before a Michale Kyser block on a three-point attempt from Iona's Sean Armand at the top of the key turned into a layup by Speedy.

Iona reclaimed the one-point advantage twice in the final 70 seconds from the free throw line, making both on two trips to have an 88-87 edge before Speedy hit the game-winner.

"I just crashed the board and it came our way," Smith said of the final play. "Luckily we were able to win this game."

LA Tech ended up taking a season-high 77 shot attempts on the night and converted on 35 of them. In the process, Chris Anderson notched his third career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Smith ended the game with 14 points, six assists, five rebounds and five steals.

Iona had four players in double figures led by Laura who finished with 21 points and 16 boards. A.J. English matched his effort by scoring 21 as well, 19 of which came in the first half.

LA Tech got a three from Chris Anderson on the wing and then an alley-oop from Alex Hamilton to Kyser which forced an early Iona timeout with a 10-2 lead.

Iona used an 8-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 48-46, on a layup by David Laury.

A running jumper from Cordarius Johnson was able to tie the game up at 48-all going into halftime.

LA Tech will now head to Athens, Ga. to face the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, March 22 at 10 a.m. CT. The contest will be televised on ESPN.

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