ALEXANDRIA -- It wasn't the best of starts for the #2 LSUA men's basketball team in their top-10 battle with #10 William Carey, but the Generals found their rhythm in the second half, outscoring the Crusaders 52-32 in the second 20 minutes for a comfortable 91-72 win Wednesday night at The Fort.
The Generals offense struggled to get going, failing to score for the first three minutes of the contest while William Carey was slowing building a 6-0 lead before Chris Vickers drove to the basket for a lay-up to finally get LSUA on the board. The Crusaders answered with two straight buckets to take their largest lead of the contest at eight points as Adrian Williams raced down the floor to turn a Generals turnover into Crusaders points and a 10-2 Carey lead four minutes into the game.
But LSUA's offense slowly started to come to life, going on a 10-4 spurt to cut that deficit down to just two points as Phillip Rankin, Jr. split a pair of free throws to make the score 14-12 Crusaders with just less than 11:30 left in the half. The Crusaders wouldn't give up the lead easy though, going on their own 7-1 push to match their largest lead again on a Branden Sheppard made free throw to put Carey up 21-13 with 9:30 left.
After trading buckets for a few possessions, the Generals got it going again, turning out eight straight points to turn a 25-17 deficit into the game's first tie as Brandon Ellis was able to get around his defender and get to the cup for a 25-25 score with just more than six minutes remaining in the half. After a Crusader basket, JaMichael Brown dialed up long distance to give the Generals their first lead of the game at 28-27 with 5:30 left. The Generals slowly worked the advantage up to six points as another Brown three-ball splashed home to make it 39-33 with less than two minutes remaining before halftime. However, the offense would stall out again and William Carey finished the half on a 7-0 run as Rodney Mallett pulled up and sank a jumper with the clock running out to give the Crusaders a 40-39 lead as the teams went to the locker room.
Out of the break, the Generals came out hot, taking the lead for good on their second possession of the period as William Claiborne found a cutting Chris Vickers for a lay-up and a 41-40 lead that LSUA would not surrender again. With the Generals holding a 55-51 lead, a transition jam by Rickey Brice, Jr. started a 9-0 LSUA run that finally gave the Generals a little bit of breathing room. The rum culminated with a Devin Jackson three that made it 64-51 Generals with just less than ten minutes remaining.
William Carey would whittle that lead down to seven points with eight minutes left, but one sudden blast of LSUA offense ended all doubt in the game's ultimate result. Leading 65-58, a pair of Rankin free throws started the Generals on a 21-5 run, ending in a Brandon Ellis lay-up that put the Generals up 86-63 for their largest lead of the night with just more than three minutes remaining, securing the win from there.
"We overcame a slow start and was able to show how capable we can be defensively, especially in the second half," said LSUA head coach Larry Cordaro. "I'm very pleased with our team's efforts on defense and their unselfishness on offense. Getting 22 assists in a game like this is a key number and a big reason for our success. I especially have to give it to our crowd tonight, they were loud and energetic. If all of our games can have a crowd like that, it'll make for a very fun season in The Fort."
JaMichael Brown and Phillip Rankin, Jr. led the LSUA attack with 14 points apiece as Brown collected his first double-double as a General by also dealing out 11 assists in the contest. Rankin added seven rebounds and four blocks to his stat line as well. Chris Vickers finished the night with 11 points while William Claiborne and Rickey Brice, Jr. each added ten with Brice grabbing a team high eight rebounds and two blocked shots while Claiborne picked up seven boards.
Even with the slow start, the Generals finished the night 50.8% from the field overall while hitting 35.7% from above the three point arc. After allowing the Crusaders (1-2) to hit on 52.9% of their shots in the first half, the LSUA defense locked up in the second half, holding William Carey to just 32.4% in the final 20 minutes, bringing their percentage down to 42.3% overall in the contest. LSUA also proved its dominance in the paint, outscoring the Crusaders 44-28 in close to the basket while holding a 40-35 rebounding edge.
The Generals (4-0) continue their run of seven straight games against ranked teams on Monday as LSUA hosts #23 Xavier for some Monday Night Basketball. Tip-off against the 23rd-ranked Gold Rush is set for 7:00 P.M. in The Fort.