Five Bulldogs scored in double figures, helping La. Tech bury Southern Miss. from deep, and thwarted the Golden Eagles penetration on offense with their quicker hands on defense to set up a date with Tulsa for a shot at the Conference USA Tournament Title.
Alex Hamilton powered a 10-2 run after a nip and tuck start, draining a triple to get the onslaught going for the Bulldogs, turning a 21-20 deficit into a 30-23 lead after Kenyon McNeail sank a three that to cap off the run in final minutes of the first half.
Southern Miss. would cut the lead down to six thanks to a Jerrold Brooks connection from deep, sending the game into the break with La. Tech leading 32-26.
Hamilton was still feeling it even after the break, the sophomore nailed back-to-back trifectas in La. Tech's first two possessions of the second half, putting the Bulldogs up 38-28 just a minute into the final stanza.
Southern Miss. was flustered into 21 turnovers, the veteran duo of Neil Watson, and Jerrold Brooks were forced into nine turnovers combined, as defensive player of the year Kenneth Smith was in his usual top form forcing two steals, and smothering Neil Watson.
Smith also knocked down 4 of his 5 tries from deep, overall the Bulldogs fired 12/25 from deep, knocking down daggers with Southern Miss scrambling back to cut the deficit in the second half.
Hamilton lead the way for La. Tech with 19 points, Jarron Johnson added 15 points, Smith finished with 16 points, and 10 assists, and Chris Anderson despite 6 turnovers, had 13 points.
Things got a little interesting at the 14:11 mark of the second half, Michael Craig nailed a jumper, finishing a 6-0 Golden Eagle run, though they still trailed 51-42.
Though tonight the Bulldogs were dialed in from deep, as evident when Smith ended any hopes of a comeback with a dagger another from deep on the ensuing possession, stretching the lead back to double digits.
Michael Craig scored 19 points, and also grabbed 9 rebounds for the Golden Eagles whom despite shooting 60 percent in the second half, gave La. Tech 30 points off turnovers, and were crushed on the boards, allowing La. Tech to snatch 18 offensive rebounds, grabbing one more than they had on the defensive end.
La. Tech cruises on and will face second seed Tulsa Saturday in the championship game that will be aired on CBS at 9:30 am Mountain Time.
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