Wildcats Battle Tough but See Season End in ASC Quarterfinals
ALPINE, Texas – The Louisiana College men’s basketball gave itself every chance to stun the ASC West Division Champions in the quarterfinal round of the American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament, but a 12-3 run by Sul Ross State to close the contest ended the Wildcats hope for the upset, ending LC’s season with a 65-54 loss to the Lobos Thursday night at the Pete P. Gallego Center.
The Wildcats jumped ahead in the early moments as Kae’ron Baker and Denzel Austin scored back-to-back makes to give LC a 4-2 lead. Sul Ross would retake the lead at 10-6 before a Jaylen Rhone jumper started the Wildcats on an eight-point LC spurt, capped by a basket and one by Denzel Austin to give the Wildcats their largest lead of the game at 14-10 with just more than 12 minutes left in the first half. After the Lobos had tied the game at 16-16, Baker put LC back out in front with a three-pointer for a 19-16 lead. The back-and-forth continues, with a three-ball by Jaylen Rhone giving the Wildcats a 22-20 lead with 6:30 left before halftime, but a 9-2 Lobo run to close out the half gave Sul Roll State a 29–24 lead at the break.
Sul Ross continued to build the lead to start the second half as the Lobos extended the run out to 16-2 by scoring the period’s first seven points to take a 12-point lead just more than two minutes into the final 20 minutes. Kae’ron Baker hit a three that ended that run and got some momentum going in the Wildcats favor. Trailing 42-32, Jaylen Rhone hit back-to-back three-pointers to pull LC back into the game. A few minutes later, Aaron McGhee got the Wildcats back within a single possession with a lay-up that made the score 44-42 with just more than 12 minutes left. Sul Ross bumped the lead back up to seven points before the Wildcats pulled the deficit back down to two points again as another three by Baker made the score 53-51 with less than 5:30 to go in the game. But that would be LC’s final push as Sul Ross pulled away again, hitting key free throws down the stretch to open the lead with no answer from LC.
Jr. G Kae’ron baker was five-of-nine from three and seven-of-16 from the field to lead the Wildcats with 19 points. Sr. G Denzel Austin hit four buckets, including a three, for 12 points. Sr. G Jaylen Rhone hit three threes on his way to 11 points. So. F KJ Bilbo finished a bucket shy of a double-double with eight points and ten rebounds. LC finished the game hitting 32.3% from the field, including 30.0% from above the three-points arc while hitting five of the six attempts they got at the charity stripe.
The Wildcats end their 2019-20 campaign at 13-13 on the year, and 7-9 in conference play.