Alexandria, LA – No. 5 LSUA sprinted out to a double-digit lead to start the second half, then had to withstand a furious Bleu Devil rally, but held off No. 12 Dillard 86-84 Tuesday night to remain perfect inside the friendly confines of The Fort.
The first half was a back and forth affair as neither team had a lead bigger than seven points, which LSUA achieved with just about eight minutes remaining before the break as a Damian Goodwin basket off a feed from Gilbert Talbot made the score 32-25. However, neither team could pull away as they traded the lead 11 times in the first half and were tied five times. The biggest anomaly of the half, Dillard shot 73.9% from the field, but found themselves trailing 48-44 at the break thanks to 14 Bleu Devil turnovers in the first 20 minutes, compared to just 4 for the Generals.
With the LSUA lead sitting at three points, 52-49, just over three minutes into the second half, the Generals exploded on a 16-4 run over 5:30 to attain the game’s largest lead at 68-53 off of a Brian Sylvester basket with just about 11 minutes left in the contest.
The Generals managed to maintain that lead until the clock ticked less than five minutes to go. That’s when Dillard made one final push, making threes and taking advantage of LSUA misses at the free throw line. But the clock was the Bleu Devils enemy, cutting it to four with 35 seconds remaining before Jordin Williams and Chris Vickers each made a pair to put the game out of reach.
“We once again found a way to pull it off at The Fort,” said head coach Larry Cordaro. “It felt like March in November out there with a championship quality opponent and a championship level crowd that was into it the whole way. Dillard surprised us a bit by playing more of a zone defense but I feel our guys adjusted well to it and did well enough to put 84 points on the board. We still need to clean up some things and continue to improve. This team is still a work in progress and we feel we still have yet to hit our full potential.”
LSUA (5-0) shot 49.2% from the field in the win, including 34.3% from above the arc. The Generals were led by Chris Vickers who scored a career high 19 points on five of seven shooting, all from deep, and made all four of his free throw attempts. Brandon Moss finished the night with 17 points. Brian Sylvester and Hayward Register each had 11 points while Sylvester added three blocks to his total. Brandon Ellis rounded out the Generals leading scorers with ten points. The Generals turned the Bleu Devils over 19 times in the win, and got 23 points off of them, compared to 15 LSUA turnovers that resulted in 12 Dillard points.
After the white hot first half, Dillard (3-2) came down to 54.2% shooting for the contest, including 34.3% from long range. Issues at the free throw line were also costly to the Bleu Devils, who were 16 of 27 from the charity line compared to LSUA’s ten of 12. Demetric Austin led the way with 33 points and ten rebounds. Jalen McGaughy scored 18 points and Montrey Thomas had 15. Dillard also couldn’t match LSUA’s bench as the Generals outscored the Bleu Devils 46-18 from those not in the starting five.
The Generals now prepare for a rematch from last season’s NAIA National Championship Tournament as they head to Waxahachie, Texas to take on the Lions of Southwestern Assemblies of God University. LSUA beat SAGU 95-74 in the first round of last year’s tournament to claim their first ever victory at nationals. Tip off at the Garrison Wellness Center is set for 6:00 PM and can be heard in CenLA on Magic 100.9FM.