Wildcats Ride Tough Defense to Avenge Loss to Belhaven

Jr. G Kae'ron Baker rising for a dunk during Saturday's game against Belhaven. Darrell Brown/LC Sports Information
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PINEVILLE, La. – Just three days after a tough, last-minute loss to Belhaven on the road, the Louisiana College men’s basketball team avenged that defeat in style with a lockdown defense for a dominant 85-66 win over the Blazers Saturday evening at H.O. West Fieldhouse.

Louisiana College used the three-ball to jump out to an early big lead in the wire-to-wire win as Kae’ron Baker hit two long balls and C.J. Murphy added another to help the Wildcats get out to an 11-2 lead following an Aaron McGhee lay-up just more than two minutes into the contest. Jaylen Rhone stole the ball and went the distance to give LC its first double-digit lead of the game at 18-7 with 15:45 left in the first half. The first half lead peaked at 16 points three times, with LC hitting that mark for the first time as an 11-2 Wildcat run ended with KJ Bilbo getting three points the old-fashioned way to give LC a 31-15 lead with 8:22 left in the period. LC took a 46-33 lead into the halftime locker room.

Baker scored first in the second half to get the lead up to 15 points, but a 6-0 Belhaven run cut the LC lead down to just nine points with just less than 18 minutes left in the game. But, two possessions later, when Baker took in an errant Belhaven pass and went the distance for an emphatic slam, Louisiana College’s lead wouldn’t go under double figures again in the contest. The lead hit its peak late in the contest as Caleb Howe hit a pair of free throws for an 83-60 lead with 1:19 left in the contest.

“Our backs have been against the wall and we really needed this win,” said Wildcats head coach Reni Mason. “We responded well defensively but we still have to get better if we’re going to recover from this recent slide we’ve been in of late.”

Jr. G Kae’ron Baker led all scorers with 26 points, hitting nine of his 14 shots in the contest. He also grabbed nine rebounds and doled out four assists in the contest. So. F KJ Bilbo was five of seven from the field and hit both free throws he took to finish with 12 points and seven rebounds. Sr. G Denzel Austin hit all six free throws he attempted on his way to 11 points. The Wildcats hit 45.8% from the field, and getting inside on an off-night from deep paid off as LC went to the free-throw line 29 times and hit 24 from the charity stripe in the win.

Now with a three-game losing streak behind them, the Wildcats (11-8, 5-5 ASC) look to start a new win streak on Thursday night in Abilene, Texas against Hardin-Simmons. LC defeated HSU 88-85 in an out-of-conference game back in December at H.O. West Fieldhouse. Tip-off for Thursday’s game against the Cowboys (7-12, 3-7 ASC) is set for 7:30 P.M. at the Mabee Complex.

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