PINEVILLE, La. – In a game that could end up determining which team wins the American Southwest Conference’s Eastern Division, the Louisiana College men’s basketball team used a 19-0 run late in the first half to pull away and never looked back in a 90-65 win over the LeTourneau Yellow Jackets Thursday evening at H.O. West Fieldhouse.
Neither team could get any real distance from the other with the largest lead of the first 14 minutes of the game coming with 11:30 to go in the first half as Kae’ron Baker got to the paint and scored for a 23-18 lead.
But the game took a big turn with about 5:30 to go before the break as a lay-up by Galen Smith, Jr. started the big run that sent the Wildcats on their win to victory. Ferontay Banks, who had several key plays throughout the run, capped it with a lay-up off of a feed from Smith to give LC a 45-25 lead with two minutes left before halftime. That would be LC’s final score before the break while LeTourneau scored the period’s final five points to make it 45-30 at halftime.
The Yellow Jackets opened the scoring in the second half to cut the LC lead down to 13, but the Wildcats had another response in them as Kae’ron Baker got into the paint again to kick off an 11-0 run that KJ Bilbo completed with a lay-up for a 56-32 Wildcats lead just 2:30 into the second period. After LeTourneau whittled it down to 18 gain, a pair of KD Wallace free throws started another LC push, this time a ten-point spurt, that bumped the lead to 28 points at 69-41 following another lay-up by Galen Smith, Jr.
LC’s lead reached its peak with 7:19 to go in the contest as KD Wallace got three points the old-fashioned way for an 81-48 Wildcat lead and LC cruised to the finish from there.
Kae’ron Baker had another solid outing as he hit ten shots in the contest, four from deep, and was five-of-six at the charity stripe to finish with 29 points. He also had five assists, four steals, and three rebounds in the contest to fill up the stat sheet. Ferontay Banks, whose play was key during the pivotal late first half run, was seven-of-13 from the field, two-of-four from deep, and made all four of his free throw attempts for 20 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists, and eight steals. KD Wallace went six-of-eight from the floor and five-of-six at the stripe to finish with 17 points. Galen Smith, Jr. picked up his second straight double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds to round out the leaders for the Wildcats. Smith also added four steals, three assists, and a blocked shot in the win.
Turnovers were the key to the dominant win as the Wildcat defense forced LeTourneau (6-3, 4-3 ASC) into 25 miscues while the LC offense protected the ball very well, only giving the ball up without a shot eight times in the entire contest. The result was 33 points off turnovers for the Wildcats while the Yellow Jackets had just 11.
The Wildcats (8-4, 8-4 ASC) head into the final game of the regular season in first place in the ASC East Division with a chance to clinch the program’s first ever Division Championship on Senior Day with a win against East Texas Baptist and a loss by University of the Ozarks. Tip-off of Saturday’s season finale against the Tigers (14-7, 7-4 ASC) is set for 3:00 P.M. at H.O. West Fieldhouse.