LA Tech Opens NIT versus Iona on Wednesday Night

March 18, 2014

GameDay Central | Game Notes

RUSTON - Louisiana Tech will participate in the 77th edition of the National Invitation Tournament with a first round matchup versus Iona at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday night inside the Thomas Assembly Center.

Two and a half weeks ago, LA Tech (27-7) thought it was playing its last home game in the TAC for the 2013-14 season, but the Bulldogs now get to regroup as the next phase of the season arrives in the form of the NIT.

"All we can do is recharge and refocus and understand that there is another great opportunity in front of us," said head coach Michael White. "We are at home and have an opportunity for our crowd to be a factor. We are playing a team that is not as familiar a team in the southeast, but in the basketball world Iona is a very good mid-major basketball program."

The `Dogs earned an automatic berth into the postseason tournament having earned the No. 1 seed in the Conference USA tournament after claiming a share of the C-USA regular season championship.

A heartbreaking, 69-60 loss to Tulsa in the title game meant LA Tech would be making its second consecutive appearance in the NIT and its eighth overall.

The Bulldogs are 8-7 all-time in NIT games after its upset of Florida State last season in the first round followed by a loss to current conference rival Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Miss., 63-52, in the second round.

The team will be led by its four seniors - Kenyon McNeail, Chris Anderson, Jaron Johnson and Cordarius Johnson -- who get another chance to play in front of the home crowd.

 

 

"Our seniors for an NIT run are extremely important," said White. "It should be more important to our seniors than anyone else on the roster. We have to be led by our seniors, especially with it being postseason."

Just like Tech, Iona received an automatic berth into the NIT having been conference regular season champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).

The Gaels finished conference play 17-3, including an 11-game winning streak. After defeating Rider (97-71) and Canisius (75-72), Iona found itself in the championship game held in Springfield, Mass. versus Manhattan.

Iona came up just short as a long three-point attempt rimmed out, giving the Jaspers a 71-68 victory.

The Gaels boast the fourth highest scoring offense in the country, averaging 83.5 points per game. They also rank in the top-20 in the nation in field goal percentage (48.7) and three-point field goal percentage (39.6).

"Their offensive numbers are off the charts," said White. "The way that they shoot the ball is ridiculous from several spots by several different guys. They also really pass the ball well. They can all pass it really well getting each other shots, primarily open threes."

They feature five players who average double figures, led by Sean Armand with 17.8 points per game.

LA Tech and Iona have only played once before on the hardwood and that was on Jan. 2, 1986 in East Rutherford, N.J. inside the Meadowlands Arena. The game was part of a tripleheader which also included American vs. Brown and Seton Hall vs. Villanova.

The Bulldogs defeated the Gaels, 84-54, behind double figure scoring from three players. The `Dogs were led by Robert Godbolt who had 18. Swingman Wilie Bland added 15 off the bench and center Randy White scored 10.

This will be the second team this season that LA Tech will play from New York state. Earlier this season in the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament in Fort Myers, Fla., the Bulldogs defeated St. Bonaventure to win the championship.

The contest will be broadcast live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston) with the pregame show beginning at 6 p.m. CT. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the play-by-play with Jack Thigpen providing analysis. Fans can also access live audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at www.LATechSports.com.

Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.

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