LC Wildcats blast past Belhaven in second half

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JACKSON, Miss. – Following a tight first half, the Louisiana College men’s basketball team took no time in blowing the game open in the second half, using a 15-1 run to get the needed separation to pull away for an 86-75 win over the Belhaven Blazers Thursday night at Charles R. Rugg Arena at Heidelburg Gymnasium. 

The Wildcats got some separation right out of the gate, scoring the game’s first six points to take a 6-0 lead 2:55 into the game following a pair of made free throws by Kae’ron Baker. But that would be LC’s biggest lead throughout most of the period as Belhaven battled strong through the first 20 minutes, including taking a four-point lead twice during the period. 

But as the period ticked down, LC started to assert its dominance. Leading 34-32, a lay-up by Galen Smith, Jr. starting a spurt of six straight points to bump the Wildcat lead to its biggest of the period at 40-32 with 3:40 left after a lay-up by KJ Bilbo. Holding a 43-39 lead, Malik Cooper scored the final four points of the first half to give LC a 47-39 lead at the break and start the big run in earnest. 

Galen Smith, Jr. got a lay-up to start the second half to send the Wildcats on their way to blowing the game open as LC outscored the Blazers 15-1 over the first four minutes of the second half, and 19-1 dating back to the end of the first half, to make it a 22-point game as another lay-up by Smith made the score 62-40. 

Belhaven tried to get back in the game, cutting the LC lead down to 13 points with 9:30 remaining, but the Wildcats made sure there would be no comeback by immediately responding with an 11-2 run to get the lead back up to 22 on a Kae’ron Baker mid-range jumper to make the score 82-60 with 4:45 left in the game. From there, the Wildcats cruised to the victory. 

Kae’ron Baker had a very efficient night, going seven-of-ten from the field, including four-of-six from three-point range, to finish the game with 23 points. He also dished out six assists, grabbed four rebounds, and had three steals. Galen Smith, Jr. exploited a mismatch in the low post to finish with a double-double of 19 points, on nine-of-11 shooting, and 14 rebounds. He also had two blocks and a steal. KJ Bilbo went six-of-eight from the field to finish with 13 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists. Malik Cooper was four-of-six to round out the leading scorers with 11 points. 

LC was on target from start to finish, hitting 61.8% from the field in the contest, connecting on 34 of their 55 attempts in the contest. Belhaven finished the contest hitting 45.6% in the game. 

The Wildcats (7-4, 7-4 ASC) head into the final week of the regular season in position to host a first round game in the ASC Championship Tournament with the East Division Championship still within reach. The race for the East Division, and the potential right to host the ASC Tournament, comes to a head next Thursday night when the current division leaders in LeTourneau come to Pineville. Tip-off against the Yellow Jackets (6-2, 4-2 ASC) is set for 7:30 P.M. at H.O. West Fieldhouse. 

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