|Updated: 11/15/2012 8:45 am
||Published: 11/15/2012 8:43 am
RUSTON, La. – Louisiana Tech (1-1) forced UALR (1-1) into 19 turnovers and held the Trojans to 30.4 percent shooting, as the Bulldogs (1-1) won by a final of 70-52 Wednesday night at Thomas Assembly Center. Louisiana Tech knocked down 22 free throws and held a 34-18 scoring advantage in the paint to hand the Trojans their first loss of the season.
In addition to the Bulldogs’ advantage in the paint, Louisiana Tech scored 24 points off the Trojans’ 19 turnovers. Kenneth Smith had six of Tech’s 11 steals and Michale Kyser blocked two shots to lead the Bulldogs’ effort on defense. Cordarius Johnson scored a game-high 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-4 from three-point range, to pace Louisiana Tech on offense.
Sophomores Ben Dillard and Taggart Lockhart scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, to lead UALR. Dillard shot 4-of-7 from the field and knocked down 2-of-3 from the line while grabbing four rebounds, including three on the offensive end. Lockhart knocked down 2-of-3 from three-point range and went a perfect 4-of-4 at the line. Lockhart led the Trojans with eight rebounds on the night.
UALR played to a +5 advantage on the boards, outrebounding Louisiana Tech, 43-38, on the night.
Neither team shot the ball well, with UALR making just 17 of 56 shots (30.4 percent) and Louisiana Tech finishing the night 22-of-61 (36.1 percent) from the field. Brandon Gibson finished with 10 points to give the Bulldogs two scorers in double figures.
Louisiana Tech’s full-court pressure defense gave the Trojans trouble from the get-go. In addition to missing its first six shots, UALR turned it over five times in the first five minutes and 11 times total in the first half. The Trojans’ became more comfortable against the pressure as the half wore on. Despite turning it over 10 times in the first 12 minutes of the half, UALR turned it over just once more over the final eight minutes.
Trailing 23-6 with just under seven minutes to play in the first half, UALR rattled off 11 unanswered to cut the deficit to eight, 25-17. The Trojans’ run started with a put-back dunk by sophomore Michael Javes at the 6:15 mark and was capped by a three pointer from Dillard at the 3:24 mark to get the Trojans within eight.
After a pair of free throws by Gibson stretched Louisiana Tech’s lead back to 10, Dillard knocked down a jumper to make it 27-19. The Bulldogs answered with a trey by Gibson that made it 30-19, followed with a field goal by Kyser to increase the Tech lead to 13. Junior Leroy Isler knocked down one of two free throws with :31 left in the half to bring the Trojans’ within 12, 32-20, heading into intermission.
UALR’s defense stifled the Bulldogs into a 1-of-6 start to begin the second half. Back-to-back field goals by freshman James White and Javes allowed the Trojans to again get it to single digits, 37-28, but the Bulldogs answered with a 7-3 run to stretch the lead back out to 13.
A pair of free throws by Raheem Appleby gave the Bulldogs an 18-point lead, their biggest of the game at that point, at the 7:12 mark. Lockhart buried a three pointer with just under five minutes remaining to get UALR within 15, 58-43, but the Bulldogs answered with a trey by Smith and lay in by Gibson to put Louisiana Tech up 20, 63-43.
UALR will play Louisiana Tech again this season on Monday, Dec. 17 at the Jack Stephens Center.
The Trojans return to action on Friday when they travel to Oxford, Miss., to take on Ole Miss. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.