Sharp-Shooting Bulldogs Take Down Colonels
Dec. 18, 2014
RUSTON - A staple of Louisiana Tech basketball is turning defense into offense.
The Bulldogs did just that on Thursday night scoring 42 points off of 27 forced turnovers to cruise to a 79-54 victory over Nicholls State in front of 3,912 fans inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
LA Tech's (8-3) defensive pressure was anchored by Kenneth Smith and Alex Hamilton who combined for 10 steals and the offensive output was led by Raheem Appleby and Xavian Stapleton who combined to score 38 points, including nine of the team's 15 three-pointers.
The victory snapped a two-game losing skid and extended the `Dogs home winning streak to 19 games, the second time under head coach Michael White they have had such a streak.
"We capitalized a bunch in the open floor off of those turnovers," White said. "I think the extreme physical effort that our guys have been putting forth as of late, carried over a little bit. We are playing with tons of energy, fight and desire knowing that we are close if we can just find a way to defend our glass. We forced 27 turnovers. We had 17 deflections at halftime. Those are terrific positives for us."
The energy level was at full max from the opening tip, forcing Nicholls State (2-6) into nine turnovers in the first nine minutes of action. Despite the extra possessions, LA Tech managed to have only a 16-10 lead midway through the first stanza.
The Colonels were still down only six, 22-16, with six minutes left in the half until Smith decided to take his only two shots of the entire game which were both nothing-but-net three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give the Bulldogs their first double digit lead.
The magic deficit number of six struck again for NSU, down 34-28 with just over a minute before the break. However, Smith took over accumulating two steals, one assist and two made free throws in the span of 32 seconds giving LA Tech a 42-28 halftime advantage.
Appleby matched his first half effort against Syracuse by tallying 15 points again. He finished with a game-high 20. In the second half, the true freshman Stapleton led the way for the sharp shooters hitting back-to-back three's to put the Bulldogs up 55-36 with 13:47 left.
His season-high 18 points came in just 12 minutes of action.
"He is a super talented young man," White said about Stapleton. "He was really close on a couple of big plays around the rim. He scored a bunch and I looked at his minutes and he almost had two points a minute. He has a pretty good argument for more playing time with the way he played tonight.
Erik McCree, Dayon Griffin and Jacobi Boykins joined in on the three-point shooting with 15 total makes tying for the second most ever in Bulldog history. The team finished 15-of-30 (50 percent) from downtown compared to 14-of-31 (45 percent) on two-point field goal attempts.
Nicholls State's Marquis Nelson and Sam McBeath each notched double-doubles.
LA Tech takes its next crack at an ACC opponent on Tuesday, Dec. 23 when it travels to take on North Carolina State at 6 p.m. CT. The matchup will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB) or visit the official website at LATechSports.com.
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