UNO defense strong late in 64-57 win at Houston Baptist

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Privateers improve to 2-0 in Southland Conference play

HOUSTON – The 9-0 run heading into the final media timeout was all New Orleans needed to improve to 2-0 in Southland Conference play as the defending conference champions held Houston Baptist University (4-11, 0-2 Southland) scoreless for nearly four minutes en route to a 64-57 win Saturday evening at Sharp Gym.

The story was the defense with 10 blocks but the play of the game came from Texas native Bryson Robinson, who drew a charge with 41.7 ticks remaining that led to the dagger – free throws for senior Travin Thibodeaux – who went 8-of-8 from the charity stripe. The forward finished with a team-high 20 points and the rebound down the stretch was his 10th, giving the Plaquemine native his sixth double-double as a Privateer and first since Feb. 1, 2017 at Abilene Christian University. Thibodeaux also dished out a team-high five dimes and picked up three blocks. Makur Puou was a menace defensively, tying a career-high with five blocks (at Oklahoma State University Nov. 16, 2016) and the senior added nine rebounds. Scott Plaisance reached double figures for the second time this season with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting off the bench.

With the victory, the University of New Orleans (5-8, 2-0 Southland) earned its first road W and begins conference play with back-to-back wins for the second consecutive season.

The Privateers cashed in from the charity stripe, going 14-of-18 and the bench scoring (29-to-7) played a key role.

Thibodeaux’s putback slam catapulted a 11-0 UNO run early in the period that put the Privateers ahead of the Huskies 11-4 at the 15:19 mark after the Ezekiel Charles triple – the league’s leading three-point shooter – drained his first attempt from long range.

Jalon Gates followed with back-to-back treys and Ian DuBose’s two free throws regained the lead for HBU 12-11 with 13:59 remaining.

Hitting the halfway mark of the stanza with nine unanswered, the Huskies were able to extend their lead to six before Damion Rosser’s layup ended the HBU run.

Thibodeaux scored back-to-back buckets with just under two minutes left as New Orleans went back in front 27-25. The senior reached double figures for the 10th time this season and sixth consecutive game, ending the half tied for a game-high (10 points). Plaisance followed with a midrange jumper and two free throws for an 8-0 run and six-point lead.

New Orleans went into the half leading 31-27. Thibodeaux added four rebounds, two assists and two blocks, Puou finished with five points, five boards and two swats and Charles came off the bench with two steals. Following Thibs in scoring was Plaisance with six as the redshirt junior went 2-of-2 from the floor and connected on both free throws. Scotty P added two rebounds and a block.

Six unanswered points by HBU gave the Orange and Blue a 37-35 lead. After a Rosser jumper, the Huskies extended their lead to four with 14:03 left to play.

A Thibodeaux swat (third of game for senior) led to a corner triple from Charles, cutting the UNO deficit to one with 12:00 remaining.

Later in the frame, Matthew Jiles, who drew a moving screen seconds into checking in, drained his long distance shot and defensively, Puou came up with his fifth block as UNO cut the HBU lead to three.

Coming out the under-8 media, Tyren Harrison scored and went to the line looking for a three-point play but could not convert the FT, though the HBU lead was back to just three.

A Gates turnover led to a transition dunk by Plaisance and Thibodeaux came up with a huge steal/drew a foul to head to the line with 5:27 remaining. The senior connected on both to regain the lead for UNO, 53-52.

Robinson came up with a huge triple from the top of the key to extend the lead to four with 4:36 to play and HBU continued to struggle from the charity stripe, giving the Privateers an opportunity to add to its cushion.

A technical sent HBU to the line and made it a two-point ballgame but the Huskies did not hit a field goal from the 7:03 marker to 2:32. The run was officially 11-2, capped by Harrison’s swat with 2:35 remaining.

With 1:25 left to play, Plaisance followed a missed three with a layup for his 10th point of the game and 60-57 lead for UNO.

BRob’s charge with 41.7 to go led to Thibodeaux free throws that clinched the victory for the Privateers.

The win is Mark Slessinger’s 82nd as head coach of New Orleans men’s basketball. He is two away from tying Don Smith for third on the all-time list.

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