Appleby Lifts LA Tech to 77-64 Win
Nov. 28, 2014
RUSTON - Raheem Appleby was 0-of-7 from the field up until he made a three-pointer with five seconds to go in the first half.
That first field goal triggered an `on fire' moment for the senior guard who scored 18 straight points for Louisiana Tech to lift the home Bulldogs to a 77-64 victory over Samford on Friday night in front of 4,214 fans inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
Even as Samford (2-5) pulled to within two points, 37-35, with 15:36 left in the game, Appleby refused to let the visitors have the lead as his hot shooting coincided with the return of Kenneth Smith who left late in the first stanza with an ankle injury.
The streak was part of a 20-4 run with Hamilton being Robin to Batman as the junior added 19 points. On defense, Hamilton recorded a new career-high five steals to go along with the rim protector Michale Kyser who swatted away eight balls to deliver the fourth straight win and the 17th straight at home.
"[Raheem] has so much confidence in himself," head coach Michael White said. "He can miss 10 in a row and then make eight of the next 10. He stepped up and hit a big deep three at the end of the first half. In the second half he really stepped up and converted for us in the middle of the zone and at the end of the break. He just did a really good job."
As a team LA Tech (5-1) started out 0-of-7 from the field, but the two squads were tied up 4-4 at the first media timeout. The first made field goal was off a fast break where Smith lobbed the alley-oop to Kyser for the emphatic slam.
Samford took its largest lead of the game, 18-13, on a made free throw by Darius Jones-Gibson despite Kyser already having five rejections.
LA Tech then went on a 17-2 run which was sparked by Hamilton's three from the left wing.
The visiting Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run of their own and had possession of the ball down 30-27 and were attempting to cut it to one or tie it before halftime, but Hamilton picked off a pass and was intentionally fouled on the break away.
After one made free throw, Hamilton had control at the point with the clock winding down for one last shot before halftime. Instead of driving it to the basket, he dished it to Appleby for the three to make it a 4-point swing and give LA Tech a 34-27 advantage going into the locker room.
"I thought Michale Kyser was really good," White said. "I also thought Alex Hamilton was really good. Three of the four have to be good for us to have any chance right now. We are searching. We are swinging and missing with some of our newcomers unfortunately, not only with their physical effort, but with their mental effort. I am leaving out Speedy who rolled his ankle. You know that any second he is between the lines he is going to give you everything he has."
The home Bulldogs shot 14-of-28 for 58 percent in the second stanza to seal the win. Xavian Stapleton joined Appleby and Hamilton in double figures with a new career-high 13 points.
Samford managed to force 21 turnovers which led to 27 points. Jones-Gibson led the way with 16.
Next up for LA Tech is an in-state showdown with Northwestern State on Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Natchitoches.
For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB) or on the official website at LATechSports.com.
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