LA Tech beats UIC; earns trip to Gulf Coast finals - Tucson News Now

LA Tech beats UIC; earns trip to Gulf Coast finals

After scoring a rare zero points in the opening round, Raheem Appleby scored a game-high 26 points as Louisiana Tech cruised to a 103-78 victory over UIC in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Showcase on Tuesday night inside the Germain Arena.


With its fourth straight win, LA Tech (4-1) advances to the finals to play the winner of St. Bonaventure and Wagner.  That matchup will be a 7:30 pm CT tip tomorrow night.


"I thought we played well," said head coach Michael White.  "I thought we beat a good team, a very solid program.  We played a very good first 20 minutes and kind of coasted to the finish line, but I thought we played in the second half with some maturity and well enough to sustain a lead.  Now, fortunately, we get a chance to play for a championship."


The hot-shooting from beyond the arc carried over from yesterday, and Chris Anderson got it started once more with a three from the wing to get the ‘Dogs on the scoreboard. 


Cordarius Johnson followed with a three of his own from the corner.  Later, he gave the Bulldogs their first double-digit lead, 12-2, after a strong move to the basket to complete the three-point play the traditional way.


LA Tech pushed it out to 21-4 when a driving Appleby laid the ball off to Jaron Johnson who had the uncontested layup.


UIC (2-4) nailed back-to-back three's to cut it to 21-10, but on LA Tech's next possession it made four free throws compliments of Appleby being fouled on a three-pointer and the Flame's Kelsey Barlow being hit with a technical foul. 


Anderson and Cordarius Johnson combined for 24 of the Bulldogs first 39 points, then Appleby took over offensively.  He scored the final seven points of the first stanza, giving the team a 60-36 edge at halftime.


The Bulldogs hit eight three-pointers in the game, but made even more of a living from the free throw line up, going 18-of-22 in the first half and finishing 29-of-43.


The Flames put together a 7-0 run, holding LA Tech scoreless for three minutes early in the second stanza, but the ‘Dogs gradually extended their lead throughout the remainder of the game.


Anderson capped an 8-0 run to stretch it out to 88-57 on a made free throw to give him a new career-high of 21 points. 


The lead maxed out at 91-59 before LA Tech breezed to the win, its fourth straight game with at least 90 points scored.


The team forced 19 turnovers, resulting in 31 points, and shot 33-of-63 from the field for 52.4 percent.


"This team is based on pressure defense and creating turnovers, getting out in the open floor," said White.  "We are only as good offensively as our defense allows us to be.


"We have gotten better.  We have come together as a group.  We have had several guys play pretty well, but we will have our hands full tomorrow with another solid program.  Both Wagner and St. Bonaventure are established programs and good teams."


Two other Bulldogs reached double-digits in scoring – Cordarius Johnson with 18 and Alex Hamilton with 10.


UIC was led by Pat Birt and Jordan Harks who scored 11 and 10, respectively.


The finals matchup will be broadcast live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM with the pregame show beginning at 7 p.m.

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