ODESSA, Tx. (LC) The Louisiana College men picked up their seventh win in a row on Saturday afternoon, outlasting the defending American Southwest Conference champion Sul Ross State University 80-77 in Odessa, Texas. The experience of junior college transfers Jaylen Rhone and Kae’ron Baker, who each contributed more than 20 points in the win, helped push the Wildcats to the close win. The Wildcats are now 7-1 on the season and 4-0 in conference play with their next four ASC games coming at H.O. West Fieldhouse starting on January 3.
The Wildcats took an early lead on the defending champs, but could not find the consistency on offense through much of the first half, allowing Sul Ross to get out to a 21-11 lead at the midway point. Down by 13 with 2:30 to go in the first, the Wildcats began to light it up from the outside and take advantage of some key Lobo turnovers. Timothy Stokes, Kae’ron Baker, and Lashard Powell all made three-point shots in the final minutes of the half with two steals leading to two easy layups mixed in. The 15-3 run over the final 2:30 of the half by the Wildcats made it a 41-40 game at the break.
LC took the lead on the opening shot of the second half, another Powell long ball, and after seven points from Jaylen Rhone over the span of 40 seconds at the 16-minute mark, the Wildcats had a 57-49 lead after the first media timeout. The lead grew to 11 on another pair of trey’s from Stokes and Baker minutes later but a 9-0 run by Sul Ross made it a 65-63 game with 7:43 remaining.
It remained a two-possession game the rest of the way with both teams converting on clutch opportunities on their ends of the floor. Six straight Lobo points with less than a minute to go put them on top 74-73 with 38 seconds left in the game. Following a Wildcat timeout, Baker found himself alone in the right corner, receiving a crisp pass from Powell, and drained his fourth, and most important, three of the game to put LC back up 76-74 with 21 seconds to go.
A key miss on the other end, thanks to the stingy Wildcats defense, and rebound from Devon Washington forced Sul Ross to foul and hope for missed free throws. The Wildcats did not oblige as Rhone and Baker made all four shots from the charity stripe to seal the 80-77 win.
Both Rhone and Baker had their best offensive performances of the season in the game with 21 and 25 points respectively. Washington finished with his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Wildcats have won seven games in a row and are the only unbeaten team in conference play after the first two weekends of cross division games.
LC will take on Northwestern State next Tuesday in an exhibition for the Wildcats before playing their last pre-Christmas game on Thursday at Millaps College in Jackson, Miss. 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.