Wildcats lock down Centenary in win

Gr. G Kae'ron Baker attacking the rim during Tuesday's game vs. Centenary
Gr. G Kae'ron Baker attacking the rim during Tuesday's game vs. Centenary(Lexi Rachal/Wildcat Media)
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 11:44 PM CST
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PINEVILLE, La. (LCU) - The Louisiana Christian University men’s basketball team held Centenary to just 26% shooting and under 50 points in a game that counted for the first time since January 2009 as the Wildcats rode their defense to a 62-46 win over the Gents Tuesday evening at H.O. West Fieldhouse.

The Wildcats nearly the entire game, only falling behind in the opening moments as Centenary made a pair of free throws on the Gents’ opening possession to take a 2-0 lead. Jude Akabueze emphatically tied the game at 2-2 on LCU’s ensuing possession. A few possessions later, Ferontay Banks hit a three-pointer to put the Wildcats up 5-2 and LCU would not give up the lead again in the contest.

A good portion of the first half would go basket-for-basket as the Gents could cut the Wildcats lead to one point, only to see the Wildcats get a bucket on the opposite end to push the lead back out to three. But that trend ended as the clock ticked into the last ten minutes of the first half as Malik Cooper hit a pair of free throws that sent LCU on a 14-0 run that turned a 13-12 game into a 27-12 Wildcats lead after Kae’ron Baker sank a mid-range jumper with 4:45 left before the break. LCU took a 32-19 lead to the halftime locker room.

After scoring the final two points in the first half, Centenary came out hot to close the gap at the start of the second half while the Wildcats faced some early struggles out of the break. That allowed the Gents to go on a 9-0 that started with those final two first half points and three and a half minutes into the second half to cut the LCU lead down to 32-26.

The Wildcats tried to pull away again, getting the lead back up to 13 points after another Kae’ron Baker three made the score 43-30. But the Gents started to pull the gap back again, cutting the LCU lead back down to six points with less than 6:30 remaining at 45-39.

On LCU’s ensuing possession after Centenary made it a six-point game, Malik Cooper was able to get to the rim for a lay-up thanks to a pass from Baker, a scene that replayed itself on LCU’s next possession, and the Wildcats were off on the game-sealing run. The 17-2 run ended with Kylan Williams scoring at the rim with just more than a minute left to make the score 62-41, and the game cruised to its end from there.

Ten Wildcats scored in the contest as LCU used a balanced attack to knock off the Gents. Jude Akabueze led all LCU scorers with 11 points that included two highlight dunks while he also emphatically blocked two Gents shots. Akabueze was also credited with five rebounds, a steal, and an assist. Kae’ron Baker and Malik Cooper both finished with ten points apiece. Baker added eight assists, four rebounds, and two steals. Cooper also contributed eight rebounds and four assists. Ferontay Banks was teetering with a double-double, finishing with seven points and a team-high nine rebounds.

LCU shot 47.3% from the field in the contest, including a solid 35.3% from above the newly extended three-point arc. Centenary finished the game hitting just 26.1% of its shots and just 9.5% from above the arc. The Gents took better advantage of second chance opportunities, outscoring the Wildcats 16-5 in second change points.

The Wildcats (4-3) have the rest of the week off before returning to action the day before Thanksgiving in an exhibition contest against Grambling State. Tip-off against the Tigers (0-3) is set for 12:00 P.M. on Wednesday, November 24th at the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.

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