Wildcats drop ETBU on Senior Day, clinch tournament home game

Jr. C Galen Smith, Jr. rising for 2 of his 27 points during Saturday's game vs. ETBU
Jr. C Galen Smith, Jr. rising for 2 of his 27 points during Saturday's game vs. ETBU(Alena Noakes/Wildcats Media)
Published: Mar. 7, 2021 at 2:26 PM CST
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PINEVILLE, La. (LC Sports Information) – The Louisiana College men’s basketball team wanted to give its three seniors at least one postseason home game and accomplished that feat by using an 11-0 run to pull away from East Texas Baptist and clinch a home game in the American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament with a near wire-to-wire 76-65 win over the Tigers Saturday afternoon at H.O. West Fieldhouse.

Bailey Hardy opened the game’s scoring with a three-pointer, but it wouldn’t take long for the Wildcats to understand a particular mismatch down low and exploit it to its fullest as on the next possession Galen Smith, Jr. got his first bucket of many in this contest.

Kae’ron Baker gave LC its biggest lead of the early going with a lay-up for an 11-4 lead just three minutes in, and about six minutes later another lay-up by Smith re-established that lead at 22-15.

A 7-0 ETBU run tied the game for the only time in the entire contest at 22-22, but that’s where the deciding run started. Ferontay Banks fed Galen Smith, Jr. again for another lay-up and gave LC the lead for the remainder of the contest. The run ended as Trey Ames found Banks cutting to the rim for 2 to make it 33-22 Wildcats with 2:00 left before halftime, a score that would not change before the break. But for LC, the tone was set as Smith had a double-double at halftime.

The second half was mostly methodical as LC looked to stretch the lead while ETBU tried to pull it back in. LC’s lead would peak toward the later stages of the contest as Kae’ron Baker drilled a three with 7:15 remaining to give the Wildcats a 57-43 lead. The Tigers would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way as LC closed out the regular season-ending victory.

“What a joy it has been to watch this team grow over this shortened season,” said Louisiana College head coach Reni Mason. “We were a focused group and it showed on the scoreboard. Galen Smith, Jr. had as dominant performance as I have witnesses here as the coach at Louisiana College.”

Galen Smith, Jr. made 13 of his 15 attempts to finish the contest with 27 points while also grabbing 15 rebounds to go with three blocked shots and two steals as ETBU struggled to find anyone who could defend him. Bailey Hardy completed his game with 14 points and six rebounds. Kae’ron Baker closed out his final regular season game as a Wildcat with 11 points. KJ Bilbo went four-for-seven for ten points along with four rebounds. Ferontay Banks filled up the stat sheet with seven points, seven rebounds, and ten assists.

The win secured LC the two-seed in the ASC East Division, allowing the Wildcats to host a quarterfinal contest in the ASC Tournament which starts next week. LC’s found out later in the evening their opponent in that game would be Texas-Dallas.

“UT-Dallas is a well-coached and seasoned postseason opponent,” continued Mason. “We will have our work cut out for us in order to advance.”

The Wildcats (9-4, 9-4 ASC) and Comets (9-4, 7-4 ASC) do battle in the ASC Tournament this Wednesday night, March 10th and tip-off of the quarterfinal contest is set for 6:00 P.M. at H.O. West Fieldhouse.

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