Nov. 30, 2011
HAMMOND, La. - A three-pointer from sophomore guard Cordarius Johnson (Coushatta, La.) hit off the front rim as the Louisiana Tech men's basketball team (2-4) fell 72-69 in overtime to intrastate rival Southeastern Louisiana (4-2) at the University Center as junior forward J.L. Lewis' (Gonzales, La.) recorded his first career double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, both career-highs.
"Southeastern Louisiana is a tough team to play at home and this would have been a great win for us," said head coach Michael White. "We challenged our guys in the locker room to step up to the challenge and while they didn't in the first half, they fought to the death for the last 20 minutes."
"J.L. is a soldier who works hard every day and is a great kid. While he is not the most talented guy on the floor, he is a workhorse who keeps getting better every game," White said.
This was the first overtime game for the Bulldogs since Dec. 12, 2009 at Centenary.
After sophomore guard Kenyon McNeail (Conway, Ark.) tied the game at 6-6 on a three-pointer at the 17:45 in the first half, SLU went on a 17-5 run over the next 10 minutes to that was ended by two free throws from senior guard Trevor Gaskins (Alpharetta, Ga.).
The Bulldogs turned up the defensive pressure as they cut the deficit from 11 to five at halftime, 30-25, in the final 7:45. During that time, Tech held the Lions to 2-of-12 shooting from the field including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.
After a steal and layup by Lewis to cut the deficit to three, 30-27, in the first 18 seconds of the second half, SLU held the Bulldogs scoreless for the next 4:57 to put Tech at a 42-27 disadvantage.
After falling behind 56-49 with 5:41 left in the half, the Bulldogs outscored the Lions 10-2 behind a pressing defense that was capped off by two free throws from McNeail with 1:45 remaining in the period for a 59-58 advantage, Tech's first since leading 3-2 at the 18:49 mark of the first half.
On the final possession of regulation, the Bulldogs were called for a defensive foul that sent the Lions to the line for a chance to win the game. The SLU player that was fouled was also injured on the play and unable to take the shots. The Tech coaches' selected DeShawn Stevenson to take the free throws, making the first but missing the second to send the game to overtime tied 59-59.
In the extra period, the Bulldogs were able to tie the contest up twice but were unable to take the lead as SLU would jump out to a 69-64 lead with 39 seconds remaining. A tip-in by sophomore guard Johnson cut the Lions lead to three with 18 seconds left.
The deficit for the Bulldogs increased to five again after two free throws from the Lions. Gaskins cut the score to 71-68 with 5.5 second left on the clock on a layup.
Antonnio Benton of SLU made the second of his two free throws to put the Lions up four but Smith was fouled on a three-point attempt on the other end of the court to have a chance to cut the lead to one.
After making one of his first two attempts, Smith purposely missed his third free throw attempt and the ball went out-of-bounds off a Lions player with 0.4 left on the clock. The attempt at the buzzer by Johnson hit off the front of the rim to end the game.
"The team continued to fight the whole game," said White. "In the second half we let them loose and were a lot better offensively. We had tremendous effort from our guys but it was just not enough tonight."
McNeail was the only other Bulldog to score in double-figures with a season-high 17. Gaskins and Smith had a team-best three assists apiece while freshman forward Michale Kyser (Lancaster, Texas) blocked three shots on the night.
As a team, Tech shot 41 percent from the field making 23 shots on 56 attempts and went 18-29 from the free throw line (62.1%).
The Lions were led by Brandon Fortenberry with 20 points and a game-high seven assists. Roosevelt Johnson added 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds while DeShawn Patterson scored 11 points.
SLU shot 25-for-58 (44.8%) for the game while going 6-of-13 (46.2%) from behind the arc. At the free throw line, the Lions made 14 on 27 attempts (51.9%).
The Bulldogs play the final of six straight games away from the Thomas Assembly Center on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against I-20 rival Louisiana Monroe in the Fan-Ewing Coliseum.
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