No. 1 Generals blast Saints to reach precipice of RRAC title

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Alexandria, La. – The No. 1 LSUA men’s basketball team pulled within one win of clinching at least a share of the Red River Athletic Conference regular season championship as the Generals blasted open a 20-point lead early and never looked back in a 109-67 win over the Our Lady of the Lake Saints Thursday night at The Fort.

In a game LSUA led wire-to-wire, it took just less than 3:30 for the Generals to get the lead into double digits as Malek Harris went over the top to his fellow big, William Claiborne, for an easy two points and a 13-2 lead with 16:40 left in the first half. The lead hit 20 points not long after as Mikkel Norment drained a three-pointer as the clock ticked under 13 minutes left in the first half to give LSUA a 33-11 lead. The first half lead hit its peak at 24 points a couple possessions later as JaMichael Brown served up an assist to Phillip Rankin, Jr., who slammed it home for a 37-13 lead with 11:15 left.

OLLU would get that lead cut down to 17 points with 3:56 left in the period on a pair of Ruben Monzon free throws, but a 7-0 LSUA right after got the lead back to 24 on a Chris Vickers lay-up and a 54-30 Generals lead with 2:30 left before halftime. LSUA held a 62-38 lead heading into the locker room.

The Generals slowly built the lead in the second half, getting it to 30 points for the first time as Brown again found Rankin for an easy two points and a 77-46 lead with 14:40 left in the game. LSUA’s lead hit its climax of 42 points for the first time with 8:35 left in the game as Vickers sank a pair of free throws for a 97-55 advantage. With the cruise control on, the Generals countered any run the Saints tried to put together to bring the final score to a margin that matched LSUA’s biggest advantage of the contest.

“I’m proud of our guys for taking care of business in both halves tonight,” said LSUA head coach Larry Cordaro. “It’s always rewarding when we can give our reserves, who all work very hard in practice and push our top guys to get better, a lot of quality minutes because they do deserve it. William Claiborne finished another perfect night. He’s been a steady force in the middle for us these last couple years, as proven by having the best field goal percentage in the whole NAIA right now. I think the best stat of the night is us having 33 assists and holding them to only 33% shooting. We have to credit Our Lady of the Lake though, they played hard and tough for 40 minutes and you have to respect the effort they put out here tonight and we certainly wish them the best for the rest of the season. We get to close out the home portion of our conference schedule on Saturday with homecoming and hope to give our fans, the best in the country, something to be proud of.”

Chris Vickers set a new season high in the win, scoring 25 points on nine made shots, including four made three pointers. William Claiborne completed another perfect night by hitting all nine shots he took for 18 points, and completed his fifth double-double of the season with 12 rebounds as well. Phillip Rankin, Jr. made seven of 11 shots and all three free throw attempts he took for 17 points to go with seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Mikkel Norment came off the bench to drop in 14 points along with three assists to round out the leading scorers. It was a record breaking night for JaMichael Brown, who broke the LSUA single season assists record in the contest as his 11 assists in the game got him past the previous mark of 146 assists set last season by Shannon James, Jr.

The Generals finished the contest hitting 55.8% overall, and after setting the LSUA single game record with 17 made three-pointers during the earlier meeting in San Antonio, the Generals dropped in 13 long balls against the Saints this go-round. Defensively, the Generals held Our Lady of the Lake (6-16, 4-10 RRAC) to just 33.3% shooting in the game and just 20% from deep. LSUA truly dominated every statistical category, 51-35 in rebounds, 47-7 in fast break points, 58-30 in points in the paint, 46-22 bench points, 13-4 points off turnovers, and 13-9 in second chance points.

LSUA (23-2, 13-1 RRAC) has now won a season-high 15 straight contests, and the top-ranked Generals with one more win will lock up a share of the conference regular season championship.

The Generals look to make that clinch on Saturday on homecoming day as LSUA hosts Southwest in a late afternoon affair. Tip-off against the Mustangs (4-17, 2-12 RRAC) is set for 4:00 P.M. in The Fort.

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