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December 15, 2011
RUSTON, La. -- The (5-5) Louisiana Tech Bulldogs bounced back off their loss to Southern Mississippi last week with a 60-58 win over the McNeese State Cowboys (4-5) for the 142nd meeting between the two schools. Wednesday's nights win made it the fifth straight time the host school came away with the win and gave Tech their 11th straight win over McNeese State inside the TAC. The win also marked the 21st straight non-conference win at the TAC, the longest streak in program's history.
Tech was able to pound it inside to help obtain their first 11 points early which opened up the three point shot for sophomore Cordarius Johnson as he hit one from the left wing to give Tech a 14-9 lead with 13:11 to play in the first half. McNeese State then tacked on a pair of free throws to tie it up at 14 apiece. Tech picked up their eighth team foul early on to put the Cowboy's leading scorer, senior Patrick Richard, on the free throw line as he hit both to give McNeese State a 20-19 lead with 7:28 left in the first. The Bulldogs would answer to end the half as true freshmen Raheem Appleby hit a three in the right corner assisted by sophomore Kenyon McNeaill to give the Bulldogs a 34-28 going into halftime.
In the first half, McNeese State had to settle for jump shots as nothing came easy for the Cowboys.
Head coach Michael White credited his defense saying, "The first half I thought defensively we were as good as we have been all year."
This proved to be the difference in an evenly matched first half as both teams turned the ball over 8 times and grabbed 18 rebounds each. McNeese State shot only 32% and 1-8 from deep, while Tech shot 44.8% in the first half including 3-10 from three-point range.
Cordarius Johnson got in double figures off his first shot of the second half off a three pointer to give Tech a 39-30 lead. This made it the 8th game out of 10 where Johnson has scored double digits, a team best. Freshman Kenneth "Speedy" Smith helped Tech score a quick five points to give Tech a 13 point lead, 54-41, with an assist to Cordarius Johnson and a put back jumper with 10:34 to play in the game. The Cowboys continued to fight in the final minutes as they cut Tech's 13 point lead to 2, 60-58, off back to back baskets by freshman Desharick Guidry with 47.5 seconds to play. Kenyon McNeaill tried to make it a two-possession game with 20 seconds left but was called for a charge that gave McNeese State a chance. But senior Trevor Gaskins knocked the ball out of Patrick Richard away at the top of the key to deny the Cowboys comeback and gave Tech the 60-58 victory.
Tech has had problems maintaining leads this season and Coach White explained how every game is a new opportunity and test for his team. This game's test against the Cowboys was their 2-2-1 press.
"[The press] bothered us and it had us very hesitant," said White. "And it took a lot of time off the clock before we were able to get in an offensive set."
Tech was once again led by Cordarius Johnson with 19 points and was the only Tech player to score in double figures. Senior Romario Souza and Kenyon McNeaill were second on the team both scoring 8 points. McNeaill also had a career-high 9 assist to help bring Tech's team total of 18 for the game. Junior forward J.L. Lewis had a career-high four blocked shots. The Bulldogs shot 42.9% (25-56) from the field and 29.4% (5-17) from behind the arc. Senior Patrick Richard led the Cowboys with a double double of 19 points and 11 rebounds while sophomore teammate Adrian Fields had 12 points. McNeese State finished the game shooting 34.5% (19-55) and 21.4% (3-14) from three-point range. Both teams matched each other in rebounds with 37.
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