Bulldogs Down Choctaws in Season Opener
Nov. 13, 2011
RUSTON, La. - Senior Trevor Gaskins (Alpharetta, Ga.) scored 17 points and sophomore Cordarius Johnson (Coushatta, La.) added 16 points to lead Louisiana Tech to a 92-70 win over Mississippi College in the season opener for the Bulldogs Sunday afternoon at the Thomas Assembly Center.
The victory opened the Michael White era at Tech as the first year head coach saw his team shoot 47 percent (37-78) from the field in the game, including an impressive 55 percent (21-38) in a second half where the Bulldogs pulled away for the win.
"We shot the ball a lot better than we did in the exhibition," said White. "I liked the production from our wings along with what we received from our front court."
Sophomore Lonnie Smith (Birmingham, Ala.) added 13 points while junior J.L. Lewis (Gonzales, La.) chipped in with 10 points and a career-high four assists as Tech shot 12-of-34 from the three-point line and outrebounded Mississippi College 50-37.
As a team, Tech was credited with assists on 23 of their 37 made field goals with freshman Kenneth Smith (St. Petersburg, Fla.) leading the way with a game-best eight assists.
"I didn't think we would shoot as many threes as we did but we shot them a lot better," White said. "We were aggressive on the offensive glass and I thought [Kenneth] "Speedy" Smith was very good in transition getting guys shots."
Both teams battled for the first 12 minutes of the game with the Choctaws taking their largest lead, 9-7, at the 14:58 mark.
The Bulldogs took a 16-11 advantage after getting five quick points from sophomore Kenyon McNeail (Conway, Ark.) with a three-point basket and a layup after a steal by Lonnie Smith on the inbounds pass.
MC then went on a 8-2 run to take a 19-18 lead after Marlon Ester hit a three-pointer with 8:22 remaining in the half.
Gaskins countered with a three-pointer of his own on the next position to give Tech the lead for good but not before the Choctaws fought to keep the score close.
The Bulldogs held a slim 28-27 lead with 4:58 to play in the first half before the Bulldogs used an 11-1 run over the next two-plus minutes to take its biggest lead of the opening stanza at 39-28 on a Gaskins three-pointer. MC scored the final five points of the half as Tech entered the locker room leading 39-33.
Not wasting any time in the second half to pull away, Johnson's three-pointer with 12:38 to play in the game upped Tech's advantage to 66-45. MC would not get any closer than 19 points the rest of the way while Tech's biggest lead came at 89-61 on another Johnson three-pointer with 3:08 left to play.
Trevon Malone led the Choctaws with 17 points while Chad Jones added 16 points.
The Bulldogs returns to action Saturday when they travel to Texas-Arlington for a 7 p.m. tipoff.