Dec. 17, 2011
RUSTON, La. - Behind a career-high 26 and 18 points from freshmen guards Raheem Appleby (Jacksonville, Ark.) and Kenneth Smith (St. Petersburg, Fla.), respectively, Louisiana Tech (6-5) came back from 13 down in the second half to defeat Arkansas-Little Rock (3-9) 71-68 in front of 2,321 fans at the Thomas Assembly Center Saturday night.
The Bulldogs took their only lead of the first half 3-2 at the 19:01 mark after a layup and made free throw from senior forward Romario Souza (Mias Gerias, Brazil).
Senior guard Trevor Gaskins (Alpharetta, Ga.) was able to cut the UALR advantage to two, 10-8, after making a three-pointer with 16:45 remaining in the period. The Trojans responded with an 8-0 run that was ended by Smith's first career three-point basket at the 13:19 mark.
The Trojans came back with another run, 16-4, run for 9:15 to take their largest lead of the game 34-19. Tech stepped up their defense as they held UALR scoreless over the final 3:31 of the first half while scoring the final six points of the period to go into halftime down 34-25.
In the second half, the Bulldogs fell behind 56-43 with 10:57 left on the clock after a jumper from Chuck Guy. Tech's defense stepped up again when needed and held the Trojans without a made field goal for the next 8:04.
After the third media timeout of the period, the Bulldogs' full court press forced two UALR turnovers on consecutive possessions that led to five points for Tech in a 32 second span on a jumper from Smith and a Gaskins' three-pointer.
With 2:36 left on the clock, Appleby made a three-pointer to give the Bulldogs their first lead since the first half, 63-62.
Appleby hit his fourth and final three-point field goal of the game to put Tech up 66-64 with 1:24 remaining. The basket also marked the end of the Bulldog's 20-6 run over the previous 9:33.
The Trojans tied the game up twice in the final minute of play before a floater from Gaskins with nine seconds left gave Tech the lead for good as Smith hit 1-of-2 free throws to seal the victory with 0.3 second remaining.
Gaskins scored 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc while freshman forward Michale Kyser (Lancaster, Texas) blocked three shots in only seven minutes of action. Smith had a team-high six rebounds and a game-best four assists and three steals.
The Bulldogs shot 42 percent for the game including 54 percent in the second half. On three-point shots, they went 10-of-24 overall and 8-for-13 in the second period.
UALR was led by D'Andre Williams with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Will Neighbour and Guy also contributed 12 points apiece.
From the field the Trojans went 22-for-48 including 7-for-15 from three-point range. At the free throw line they hit 71 percent of their shots.
Louisiana Tech ends their three-game homestand against Northeastern Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the TAC.