ALEXANDRIA -- The #2 LSUA men's basketball team felt good to remain undefeated when they went up eight points with less than 1:30 remaining, but clutch shooting by the Bleu Devils and costly turnovers down the stretch sent #11 Dillard on a 9-0 run to finish the game, dooming the Generals to their first loss of the season 88-87 Monday night in The Fort.
Dillard scored the game's first four points before Brandon Ellis got LSUA on the board with a three-pointer, and then following a technical foul against Dillard's coach, Devin Jackson started what would be a scoring barrage by him as he made both free throws to give the Generals their first lead of the night at 5-4 just 1:39 into the contest. Dillard scored the next four to take an 8-5 lead on a Xavian McKay bucket with just more than 17 minutes remaining in the first half.
But from there the Generals seemed to take control of the game, going on an 18-4 run and threatened to really start pulling away as JaMichael Brown found Ellis ahead of the pack for an easy two points and a 23-12 Generals lead with just less than 13 minutes left in the half. Dillard would work that deficit down to five points as Jeron Rogers hit a three to make it 23-18 before LSUA went running again, using a 13-5 push to get the Generals their largest lead of the game as a Donovan Thomas put back of a missed free throw made the score 36-23 LSUA with 6:45 left in the period.
Again, Dillard responded by scoring the next 11 points as a Jessie Ward three made the score 36-34 with five minutes left before the break. The Generals got the lead back up to eight points twice in the closing minutes, the final time on a William Claiborne bucket with just more than 2:15 left that made it 44-36. But the Bleu Devils scored the half's final six points as Martavius Wilson's bucket with 45 seconds left made the score 44-42 at the break.
Out of the half, Dillard came out and tied the score at 44-44, and then again at 46-46, but just couldn't regain the lead from the Generals. LSUA again threatened to pull away midway through the second half as a JaMichael Brown basket and foul sent the Generals on a 16-4 run to turn a one point lead into a 13 point cushion as Brown beat the defense down the court following a Bleu Devil missed free throw for a lay-up and a 71-58 LSUA lead with 10:40 remaining in the contest. As the clock ticked towards the game's final five minutes, LSUA continued to maintain a double-digit lead as Brown hit a pair of free throws with 5:53 left to make it 80-69.
That's where Dillard started the rally, scoring five straight to cut the LSUA lead to six at 80-74 on a McKay three pointer. But from that point, it seemed the Generals had things in hand as LSUA matched score for score to keep the lead over the Bleu Devils at eight points. With 1:24 remaining, Devin Jackson sank a pair of free throws to put the Generals up 86-78 and it appeared LSUA was going to weather the Dillard storm.
The Generals had a chance to really put the game out of reach after a fantastic defensive series saw LSUA reject two Bleu Devil shots at the rim and finally get possession. But the Generals couldn't convert on the other end and Dillard raced down the court and drained a three with 54 seconds left to pull within five. Looking for the foul, the Generals would turn the ball over on the ensuing possession and the Bleu Devils nailed another three pointer to get within two points with the shot clock now turned off.
But LSUA couldn't get the stripe to be their friend, missing three of four free throw attempts down the stretch, even though Dillard also missed a pair. Following a LSUA missed pair at the line, Dillard was allowed a lay-up that kept the Generals in the lead with just five seconds left. But out of the timeout, the inbounds pass went awry and was stolen, with an immediate foul being called sending the Bleu Devils to the line. Jamerson Roberts knocked in both to put Dillard on top with just four seconds left. JaMichael Brown's flip to the rim as the horn sounded rolled off of the side of the basket and Dillard escaped with the win.
Devin Jackson was one shy of tying the LSUA single game record for three pointers made, hitting eight in the contest, along with four free throws, to finish with a game high 28 points. Brandon Ellis, off a career night against Xavier, kept scoring as he put in 17 points on seven makes in 11 attempts. William Claiborne put in 11 on four of seven shooting with three makes in four attempts at the stripe. Phillip Rankin, Jr. notched his second double-double as a General with ten points and 13 rebounds. JaMichael Brown filled up the stat sheet with eight points, seven rebounds, four steals, and a new LSUA single game record 13 assists. Brown bested his own mark that he set back in the season opener against SUNO where he doled out 12 dimes.
It was a rare off-shooting night by Generals standards, hitting just 44.3% from the field in the contest, while also allowing a rarely high number by an opponent as Dillard scored on 50.7% of their attempts from the field. Where LSUA's off-shooting night was most apparent was at the free throw line, where the Generals were 14 of 26 for a modest 53.8% for a team that was hitting 78.1% at the charity stripe coming into the game.
#2 LSUA (5-1) looks to rebound from the loss next Monday night as the Generals head down to New Orleans for the return game against #23 Xavier just two weeks after the Generals defeated the Gold Rush 76-68 in The Fort. Tip off against the Gold Rush is set for 7:00 P.M. in Xavier's Convocation Center.