LONGVIEW, Texas – The Louisiana College men’s basketball team had fought back all night against LeTourneau to take the lead late, but saw that advantage slip away as a turnover did in the Wildcats in the waning seconds to drop Saturday afternoon’s contest to the Yellow Jackets 78-76 at Solheim Arena.
Kae’ron Baker showed right off the tip that he was bound to have another big night as he ended the game’s first possession with a three-pointer to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead right out of the gate. LC held the lead through the first few minutes, but then the Yellow Jackets went on a small run that allowed them to take the lead, and then they maintained it through the rest of the period, answered every LC run. The largest lead of the period came right near the end as a three-point play allowed LETU to take the first double-digit lead of the contest at 45-35. Ferontay Banks got out on the break and drained a transition jumper with just less than 30 seconds before halftime to make the score 45-37 at the break.
The largest deficit the Wildcats faced in the contest was a 13-point hole, which was seen twice during the first 7:30 of the second half before LC started to make the push back in the contest. Trailing 59-46 with less than 12:30 to go, Baker got into the paint and scored to help start chipping away at the deficit, starting a 7-point spurt by the Wildcats that cut the score down to 59-53 after Ferontay Banks drained a three-pointer. LeTourneau pushed the lead back up to ten before LC had another answer in the form of a 6-0 run capped off by a lay-up by Baker to make it 65-61 LETU.
Trailing 68-61 with less than 7:30 left in the contest, LC made its big run and tried to take control of the contest. After grabbing a rebound, Banks found Malik Cooper ahead of the pack and Cooper sank a fastbreak jumper to start what would become an 11-0 Wildcat run to retake the lead. LC went back out ahead with 4:30 to go as Baker hit a jumper in the paint to give LC a 70-68 advantage, which was LC’s first lead since the score was 7-6 early in the first half. The final points of the run came from the free throw line as KD Wallace sank both shots from the charity stripe to make it 72-68 Wildcats with 3:15 left. LC led by four points twice more down the stretch, but it wasn’t to be as the shots late wouldn’t fall, and a turnover turned into the game-winning lay-up for LeTourneau with five seconds left.
For the third time in seven games this season, Kae’ron Baker hit the 30-point mark, finishing the contest with 32 points on 12-of-25 shooting, including four made threes. Baker also grabbed seven rebounds, had four assists, and was credited with a blocked shot and a steal.
Malik Cooper and KD Wallace each finished the contest with 10 points and five rebounds to round out the leading scorers for the Wildcats in the contest. Ferontay Banks filled up the stat sheet with nine points, six assists, and five rebounds.
Louisiana College made 31 baskets and shots at a 52.5% clip in the contest, outshooting the Yellow Jackets who hit 27 shots and were successful on 43.5% of their attempts. But the key for LETU (5-1, 3-1 ASC) was a 16-of-16 performance at the free throw line, where LC was eight-of-12 at the charity stripe. The mark by the Yellow Jackets tied an ASC record for best free throw shooting game that has been held by Louisiana College since the 2002-03 season.
The Wildcats (4-3, 4-3 ASC) look to rebound back at the friendly confines of home on Thursday night as McMurry comes to town for an ASC contest. Tip-off against the War Hawks (2-9, 2-5 ASC) is set for 7:30 P.M. at H.O. West Fieldhouse.