ABILENE, Texas – The Louisiana College men’s basketball team had chances to pull out a key road win at Hardin-Simmons, but a floater at the buzzer proved to be the difference in the Wildcats 61-59 defeat to the Cowboys Thursday night at the Mabee Complex.
Defending without fouling was a key aspect of the tightly called contest as both teams tried to pull away. The Wildcats held the largest lead in the first half at seven points, which they held twice, including at the break as a K.D. Wallace lay-up with ten seconds before the break made it 34-27 LC at halftime.
After a number of empty possessions by both teams to start the second half, Bailey Hardy hit a three with 17:45 left in the game to finally break the seal in the period and give the Wildcats the game’s largest lead for either team at 37-27. But a 12-3 Cowboy run followed that set up a close contest the rest of the way. Trailing 56-55, KJ Bilbo hit a three that put the Wildcats up 58-56 with just more than 90 seconds left in the game. On Hardin-Simmons ensuing possession, the Wildcats forced an offensive foul to get the ball back, and a foul on the other end put Kae’ron Baker on the line for a pair of free throws. Baker split then pair, but on the other end a foul was called on a put back bucket that fell, and with the made free throw, the game was tied with less than 50 seconds left. A baseline three wouldn’t fall for the Wildcats on their final possession, but a floater as the horn sounded fell for the Cowboys to end the game.
Sr. G Denzel Austin made four three-pointers on his way to a team-high 14 points. Jr. G Kae’ron Baker finished the contest with 12 points and six rebounds. So. F KJ Bilbo was one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine boards. It was a tough night shooting for the Wildcats, who hit on 37.5% of their shots in the contest.
The Wildcats (11-9, 5-6 ASC), who are in a battle for a postseason spot with five games remaining, look to better their positioning on Saturday back in Abilene for a game against McMurry. Tip-off against the War Hawks (7-13, 4-7 ASC) is set for 3:00 P.M. at the Kimbrell Arena.