ALEXANDRIA, La (LSUA) - Senior F/C William Claiborne became just the fourth member of the LSUA 1,000 points scored club and the #1 LSUA men's basketball team broke a record set earlier this season by hitting 18 three-pointers in tonight's game as the Generals dominated from the outset in a 119-71 win over the Southwest Mustangs Saturday evening at The Fort and clinched at least a share of the RRAC regular season championship.
The rout was on early as LSUA scored the game's first eight points, setting the tone for the night as a Claiborne bucket and two three-pointers accounted for those eight points. The lead hit double digits for the first time on another Devin Jackson three pointer for a 14-4 lead with just more than 16 minutes left in the first half. It wouldn't fall under double figures for the rest of the game after William Claiborne hit a pair of free throws to make the score 19-9 LSUA with 13:50 left in the first half. The lead hit 20 for the first time moments later as Donovan Thomas blocked a shot and found Phillip Rankin, Jr. ahead of the pack for a lay-up and a 33-13 advantage with just less than 11 minutes left in the first half.
LSUA's first half lead would hit its peak at 29 points as Brandon Ellis cut through and found an open Devin Jackson for another three pointer that made it 42-13 with nine minutes left in the first half. The Mustangs would use the final nine minutes of the half to cut the LSUA lead down to as little as 21 points with less than a minute left, but a Malek Harris three pushed it back up to 61-37, which would be the halftime score.
Southwest came out of the locker room and cut the lead under 20 right away, scoring the first five points as Tyler Watkins split a pair of free throws to make it 61-42. However, Harris had his say as he hit another three-pointer to get the lead above 20 to stay and start another big LSUA run.
That run led to the advantage getting above 30 points for the first time on a Mikkel Norment three-pointer that made the score 78-46. The lead hit 40 points with nine minutes left as Norment again pulled up and drained a three to make it 97-56. Not long after, the advantage was 50 points as Carlos Coleman got to the rim and scored for a 108-58 lead. The peak was a 51 point difference, which was obtained on a Chris Osten put back with 3:45 left that made the score 113-62 and the Generals closed it out from there.
"Tonight was one to remember," said LSUA head coach Larry Cordaro. "Between William Claiborne getting his 1,000th career point, Colby Harrison getting to represent our university as the homecoming king, and clinching a share of another conference title, we had a lot of things go our way. We've been playing real quality ball as of late, which is shown by having back-to-back 30-assist games. We did a good job defending the home floor again in conference play this season, a key part of winning the title, but we have to keep it going now on a stiff road test. These games coming up will definitely challenge us, but if we play the way we have been lately, we believe we can go anywhere and put ourselves in a position for success."
12 of the 13 Generals who stepped onto the floor during the contest got at least one bucket. Phillip Rankin, Jr. led the way with 21 points on nine of 11 shooting, including a made three-pointer. He also had six assists and two blocked shots. Mikkel Norment had a hot hand with 20 points on eight of 12 shooting, four of the makes being from deep. Devin Jackson hit five three-pointers on his way to 17 points. On his milestone evening, William Claiborne finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Chris Vickers and Malek Harris each finished with ten points on three of seven shooting and each also hit a pair of three pointers while both also dished out a pair of assists and had a steal. Harris grabbed six rebounds while Vickers nabbed five. JaMichael Brown had seven points and nine assists and Brandon Ellis added seven more assists in the contest.
The Generals continued to shoot for a high percentage, hitting 53.7% in the game after going for 61.5% in the first half. LSUA was also on from deep, hitting 18 three-pointers, breaking the mark of 17 made shots from deep set earlier this season at Our Lady of the Lake. Southwest (4-18, 2-13 RRAC) was held to 41.1% from the field, just 22.2% from deep, and hit just seven of it 14 free throw attempts.
#1 LSUA (24-2, 14-1 RRAC) has clinched at least a share of the RRAC regular season championship with this win, but looks to claim the title outright next weekend during a tough road back-to-back against two teams fighting for a potential bye in the conference tournament. The first of those games is Friday night in Austin, Texas at Huston-Tillotson. Tip-off against the Rams (11-10, 9-5 RRAC) is set for 7:30 P.M. at Mary Branch Gymnasium.