Appleby leads Tech to 15th straight victory - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Appleby leads Tech to 15th straight victory

Raheem Appleby poured in 28 points to carry Louisiana Tech to their program record-tying 15th straight win, a 67-61 win over Idaho on Saturday night at the Cowan Spectrum.

LA Tech (23-3, 14-0 WAC) also remained undefeated in conference play after grabbing their eighth straight road victory which breaks a program record.

The Bulldogs opened the contest with four turnovers on their first four offensive possessions and allowed Idaho (9-16, 5-10 WAC) to open with a quick 4-0 lead.

Down 16-9 to the Vandals, the Bulldogs got back-to-back three-pointers from Cordarius Johnson and Raheem Appleby to cut it to within one, but Idaho then went on a 6-0 run to push their lead back out to seven.

The Bulldogs wound up having nine turnovers in the first half and only made eight field goals. Fortunately, half of those made field goals were three-pointers which allowed the team to only be down 30-24 at the halftime break.

"We got off to a bad start against a really good zone," said head coach Michael White. "[It was] a zone that probably had us thinking too much and made us tentative, but thank goodness over time, we adjusted and started playing with a little bit more confidence, and just got more aggressive. The more aggressive we were the more sound we were."

Idaho grabbed their largest lead, 36-27 with 17:36 left in the second half, but Appleby then caught fire. He made three of his career-high seven three-pointers on three consecutive possessions to keep the Bulldogs within striking distance.

The sophomore from Jacksonville, Ark. would give LA Tech their very first lead of the game, 50-49 with 7:37 to go on a fade away jumper.

Coach White was doing everything he could to give Appleby as much rest as he needed given the high altitude.

"[Appleby's] adrenaline must've been going so fast just because it seemed like he went on a big scoring spurt that took a lot of energy," said White. "He hit some huge shots for us."

The Bulldogs then used their defense to force four turnovers by the Vandals over the next three minutes, and the team took their largest lead of the game, 57-51 on a beautiful lob pass from Kenneth Smith to Jaron Johnson who put in the layup.

After the Vandals cut it to within two, Smith then took over to score five points in the final 1:22 of the game, including three important free throws, to seal the victory.

Taking care of the basketball was a big reason LA Tech was able to get the come-from-behind victory as they only had two turnovers in the second half with Smith leading the way with 10 assists and zero turnovers on the night.

"[Kenneth Smith] was phenomenal in getting to the rim," said White. "He hit a couple of hard floaters, converted at the foul line late and secured the ball when we needed him to have it."

As a team, the Bulldogs shot just 40.4 percent from the field, but finished with an incredible 12-of-23 from beyond the arc for 52.2 percent, the most threes they have made in a single game this season.

McNeail was the other guard besides Appleby who got in on the three-point action, going 3-of-5 and scoring in double digits with 11 points.

Idaho was led by Kyle Barone with 19 points and eight rebounds.

The Bulldogs return to the Thomas Assembly Center to begin a three-game home stand starting with a non-conference contest with Central Baptist on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.

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