Wildcats sneak past Millsaps to continue historic start

Photo Source: Louisiana College
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(LC) - The Louisiana College men’s basketball team continued their exceptional start to the season on Thursday with an exciting 88-85 win over Millsaps College. The win is the eighth in a row for the Wildcats, establishing a new record for longest winning streak in the NCAA era. A 50-point second half and 42 total bench points propelled the Wildcats to another close victory.

“That was a big-time road win for a very mentally tired basketball team,” Head Coach Reni Mason said. “I am so proud of this group’s ability to battle to the end. That was a good basketball team we beat on the road today.”

After suffering their first loss of the season two days ago, Millsaps came out with a point to prove early, but the Wildcats were equal to the task. The teams matched blow-for-blow through the first 10 minutes of the first half that included five ties and seven lead changes. It wasn’t until an 11-1 run by the Majors that one of the teams created a two possession or more lead on the other.

Down 33-24 with just over six minutes left in the half, Timothy Stokes reignited the team with a long ball that cut the lead back to six. After trading a few baskets over the next five minutes, Stokes found a runner in the lane that cut it to four and a pair of free throws from K.D. Wallace with 23 seconds left to go made it a 40-38 Millsaps lead. A late foul sent the home team to the line with no time left on the clock and they would convert to take the 42-38 lead into the break.

The first 10 minutes of the second half played out much like the first 10 of the game, with both teams matching shots with Millsaps not being able to add to their lead or the Wildcats close the gap. Back-to-back trey’s from Jaylen Rhone at the 13 minute mark, with a Millsaps miss between them, erased the lead and made it a 57-56 game. A 7-0 Wildcat run just moments later by Rhone and Kae’ron Baker gave the Wildcats their first lead since 9:25 mark of the first half, sparking the exciting finish to the game.

Over the span of the next four minutes of play the lead changed hands 10 total times as the exceptional second half shooting from both teams went back and forth. The Wildcats took the lead for the last time on a three from Baker with 5:25 left, getting a quick following layup from Rhone that put them up 78-75 with 4:19 left. The stingy Wildcat defense stepped up in the final few minutes only allowing three made field goals from the Majors down the stretch. The Wildcats went 8-for-9 from the line in the final two minutes to keep their lead intact.

The Wildcats shot better than 50 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the line in both halves. Baker turned in his second straight 25 plus point performance with a new season high of 26 on 8-of-16 shooting including five from behind the arc. Rhone, Stokes, and Devon Washington all each ended in double figures on the night as well, the second time this year the Wildcats have had four players with 10 or more points.

The Wildcats have a small break in the action for Christmas with their final two games of the 2018 portion of the schedule planned for December 28 and 29 in Belton, Texas. LC will take part in the Cru Holiday Classic and play Hendrix and Covenant College (Ga.). Stay connected to Louisiana College men’s basketball by following @LC_MBSK on Twitter. For general athletics news follow @LC_Wildcats on Twitter or like Louisiana College Wildcats on Facebook