Dec. 4, 2013
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech cut the deficit to within three midway through the second half, but a five minute scoring drought proved too much as they fell to UL-Lafayette, 89-80, on Wednesday night in front of 4,085 fans inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
The game was tied 3-3 early in the contest, but the Bulldogs played from behind the entire night as they were never able to take the lead despite getting it to within one possession on several occasions.
UL-Lafayette (6-2) came in with a two-headed monster in Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long. Both registered double-doubles in handing LA Tech (6-2) their first loss in the TAC since Jan. 28, 2012, a streak that was at 19 games.
"It hurts," said head coach Michael White. "We had a good streak going. We had a good streak going in the TAC for a while. We were able to overcome some of those deficits in the past couple of years where we just don't seem like in a great rhythm offensively or defensively, but you find a way. I had no doubts that that was going to happen for about 32 minutes there, but [UL-Lafayette] played with some poise offensively.
"I thought they were terrific handling our pressure across the board. They made sound decisions. They did not allow us to speed them up enough to create enough turnovers to overcome the deficit and to overcome our offensive woes."
It did not help that the `Dogs were cold on offense from all three areas - the field (32-77 for 42 percent), the three-point line (4-20 for 20 percent) and the free throw line (12-22 for 55 percent).
The Ragin' Cajuns had two separate 10-point leads in the first half thanks in large part to their ability to take care of the basketball with only three turnovers.
ULL nearly had a seven-point lead going into halftime after two made free throws with four seconds left. However, Alex Hamilton took the in-bounds pass and went the distance, getting the running floater to fall before the buzzer sounded, putting the `Dogs down only 44-39 at the break.
"[UL-Lafayette] had the lead in the first half, got off to a great offensive start," said White. "We did a poor job defensively in the first half. They were very good, so we played from behind. I thought we pressed a little bit offensively, played a little bit fast, hunted shots a little bit more than you need to do to be successful."
The Bulldogs dug themselves another quick hole to start the second stanza as Long scored back-to-back baskets to push ULL's lead back to nine.
The lead was cut to three after a made free throw by Gilbert Talbot, but UL-Lafayette responded with a jumper.
The lead was cut to three again, 56-53, but the opponent responded yet again, this time with a three-pointer by Xavian Rimmer.
ULL's lead stretched out to nine points once more before Raheem Appleby converted two free throws to cut it to within one possession with 7:45 to go.
A defensive stop by the `Dogs gave themselves a chance to tie it up with a potential three-pointer, but a costly turnover turned into a layup by Payton on the other end.
"I thought there were five or six times where we were right there on the verge of turning it where you can tie it or take the lead, or cut it within one or two and put a little more game pressure on them, but every time it just seemed like they stepped up with a big tip-in or Kasey Shepherd had a big drive or they drew a foul and got to the foul line," said White. "They had a bunch of different deflating conversions where we were not able to overcome the lead."
The team then went on a five minute scoring drought that they were unable to overcome.
Michale Kyser was a game time decision with a knee injury, but came off the bench to register five points, six rebounds and four blocks.
ULL's Long recorded 17 points and 12 rebounds while Payton had 17 points and 10 rebounds. However, it was Kasey Shepherd who was probably the x-factor scoring a game-high 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
LA Tech returns to action on Saturday versus Southern. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
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