AUSTIN, Texas – The Louisiana College men’s basketball team saw the defensive challenge of a team that averaged 102 points per game in its first two games of the season and reveled in the battle, holding Concordia 40 points below its season average as the Wildcats closed out the week victoriously with a 73-62 win over the Tornados Saturday afternoon at Concordia Fieldhouse.
LC went out to show early that it would not be a scoring fest, holding Concordia to just four points over the game’s first 4:30 that allowed the Wildcats to quickly jump out to a double-digit lead. Bailey Hardy’s three-pointer to open the scoring gave LC the lead for good as the Wildcats held the lead from wire-to-wire. Galen Smith, Jr. drove past his defender for a lay-up to give LC a 16-4 lead with 15:30 left in the first half.
In what would become a steady flow for the remainder of the half, Concordia would pull the lead down to nine points only to see the Wildcats pop it right back up to an 11- or 13-point advantage. LC’s largest lead of the first half came right with the period winding down as Ferontay Banks fed Smith in the low post. Smith turned baseline on his defender and banged in a lay-up off the glass just before the shot clock buzzer sounded to make it 43-28 Wildcats at the break as the Tornados couldn’t get off another shot before the period horn sounded.
The Wildcats looked like they were ready to pull away for good to start the second half as LC scored four of the period’s first five points to take the largest game of the lead on another Galen Smith, Jr. lay-up that made it 47-29 Louisiana College only 90 seconds in.
Back-to-back made three-pointers by the Tornados threatened to undo all the effort the Wildcats put in to build the big lead, but LC had the answers and Concordia would not get the lead under double-digits for the remainder of the contest. They would cut it down to ten twice in the closing moments, but sure free throw shooting by the Wildcats made sure the Tornados would get no closer as LC closed out the win.
“We told our guys at practice this would be a test of our fortitude,” said Louisiana College head men’s basketball coach Reni Mason. “Coming off a loss and playing a team that can score at a high volume, we knew this would be a tough challenge both mentally and physically. Our guys accepted that challenge in a big way, especially on the defensive end, and we got a much-needed road win. This victory will certainly make the ride back home much easier.”
Senior guard Kae’ron Baker had another solid outing as he filled up the stat sheet with a game-high 24 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a blocked shot to boot. Galen Smith, Jr. exploited his size down low to finish the game with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks. Malik Cooper rounded out the leading scorers with ten points and five rebounds. Ferontay Banks led the team in rebounding from his guard spot with eight boards to go with his seven points.
While the Tornados (1-2, 0-2 ASC) enjoyed an edge above the three-point arc, the Wildcats took advantage down low, which resulted in LC enjoying a nine-point advantage at the free throw line, which was vital to LC opening and maintaining the lead throughout the contest. The Wildcats (3-1, 3-1 ASC) return home next week for a pair of contests, starting on Thursday when Texas-Dallas comes to town. Tip-off against the Comets (2-0, 0-0 ASC) is set for 7:30 P.M. at H.O. West Fieldhouse, immediately following the women’s contest.