Freshmen Guards Key Bulldogs' Comeback Over UALR

Raheem Appleby's point total was the most since sophomore Kenyon McNeail scored 27 at North Dakota last season
Raheem Appleby's point total was the most since sophomore Kenyon McNeail scored 27 at North Dakota last season

Dec. 17, 2011

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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.