MONTGOMERY, Ala.–The LSUA men’s basketball team created 24 turnovers and held off Florida Memorial for a 65-61 victory Friday afternoon at the Tine W. Davis Gymnasium.
The 24 turnovers led to 22 Generals points, giving them a 19-point edge in that category.
With the game in the balance, junior guard Casey Smith calmly buried three out of four free throws to ice the game in the final seconds.
“I kept my confidence,” Smith said. “After missing the free throw, I beat myself up because I’ve been at the gym shooting free throws. I knew there would come a time when I had to make clutch free throws.”
The final turnover for FMU, a deflection and steal by freshman Jakemin Abney with five seconds left with the Generals clinging to a two-point lead set up Smith’s free throws.
“Our guys definitely put forth tons of effort in the 40 minutes,” LSUA Men’s Basketball Head Coach Larry Cordaro said. “It wasn’t always the smartest or cleanest, but the energy was there. Our guys competed and they did what was asked of them and we came away with the win.”
The Generals (3-2) fell behind 8-0 in the first 2:37 minutes of the game, but LSUA defense took over the remainder of the half. The defense kept FMU off the scoreboard for the subsequent 7:19. In that time, LSUA forced 10 consecutive misses and six turnovers, and the Generals scored the next 14 and remained in front the remainder of the half.
LSUA led by as many as 18 in the first half after back-to-back baskets by senior guard Jordan Adebutu and a triple by freshman Jakemin Abney. Adebutu led LSUA with 15 points. He has led the team in scoring in four of the five games so far.
Between those three Generals baskets were two Lions turnovers. The first led to an Adebutu dunk.
LSUA led by 12 at halftime thanks to Aubrey Washington burying back-to-back 3-pointers to end the half. Washington led all scorers with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 4-of-6 from deep.
FMU (1-3) carried the strong play into the second half, as started the half on a 24-10 run to take a 52-50 lead, a 30-10 run dating back to the final minute of the first half.
Berry made a key steal with the score at 52-50. Following an FMU steal, the Lions tried an alley-oop, but Berry jumped and stole the ball, which led to a Joe Lewis basket on the other end to tie the score.
The game was a one-score contest the final nine minutes until Smith’s second free throw to ice it.
A 3-pointer by Washington gave the Lions a one-point lead with 3:12 remaining before Berry came up huge again. He scored five points in three possessions, including LSUA’s only triple of the second half, to put the Generals in front by four.
“I have confidence in everything I do,” Berry said. “I’m a good shooter and when others were struggling, I was passed the ball and I shot it with confidence.”
LSUA came out on top, despite shooting just 33 percent and going 6-of-30 from 3-point land, including 26.5 percent and 1-of-13 in the second half. FMU shot 41 percent for the game, but due to turnovers, the Generals attempted a whopping 21 more shots.
“We had a really good first half,” Cordaro said. “But we have yet to play a full 40 minutes this season. There have been times we have played outstanding, but we need that more consistently.”
Abney scored 10 points, as did sophomore Nashaun Ellis, playing in his first game of the season. Fellow sophomore Rodney Munson filled the stat sheet with six points, five assists and four rebounds.
The Generals return to action Saturday when they play the second game of the tournament against Keiser. Tip-off is at 4:15.