BIRMINGHAM, AL -- The Louisiana College men's basketball season began on Monday night as the Wildcat men traveled to Birmingham-Southern College to start the 2018-19 season. Despite a 50-point second half, the Wildcats would fall just short in their season opener 86-84 to the Panthers. LC will take on in-state rival Centenary College Thursday evening in Shreveport.
The Wildcats fell behind by six before the first media timeout, but quickly responded with a pair of three’s from Rex Hollis and Denzel Austin to tie the game at 14, six minutes into the contest. An Austin layup on the next possession gave LC their first lead, although short lived as BSC tied the game then took the lead back on a transition three-pointer following a Wildcat turnover.
The Panthers stretched their lead to double-digits as the Wildcats fell cold from the field missing seven straight shots from the floor before Devon Washington finally found a bucket at the eight minute mark to make it a 29-20 game. The big man scored 12 of the Wildcats final 16 points of the first half but the BSC lead was still 42-34 after the first 20 minutes of play.
BSC kept the Wildcats at arm length through the first 7:30 of the second half before LC found some rhythm from behind the arc. Jaylen Rhone and Kae’ron Baker drained back-to-back shots from distance to cut the lead down to four at 62-58 with 11:40 left in the game. A Washington floater and fast break layup from Rhone on the next two trips tied the game at 62 at the midway point of the half.
The game was tightly contested the rest of the way but the Wildcats could not find the stop they needed in order to make up the two possession lead that BSC maintained after two layups gave them the 66-62 lead minutes after the game was tied. The Wildcats got within two points on six different occasions over the final nine minutes of the game but each time the Panthers would respond with a basket of their own to stretch the lead back to two possesions.
Four Wildcats scored in double figures in the game with Washington leading the way with a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Making their LC debuts Denzel Austin and Jaylen Rhone reached double figures while Lashard Powell added 11 on 4-of-8 shooting.
The Wildcat continue their long road trip to start the season with a game Thursday night at the Gold Dome in Shreveport against Centenary College (1-0). Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.