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Bulldogs barely miss NYC

March 27, 2014

 

Kenneth “Speedy” Smith, a junior guard, drives to the basket in last night’s loss against Florida State. – Photo by Matthew Paskert/FSView

Kenneth “Speedy” Smith, a junior guard, drives to the basket in last night’s loss against Florida State. – Photo by Matthew Paskert/FSView

 

KALEB CAUSEY
Editor-in-Chief

JARED KING
Staff Reporter

 

Louisiana Tech men’s 2013-2014 basketball program saw a successful season come to a heartbreaking end Wednesday night in a quarterfinal 78-75 loss in the National Invitation Tournament against Florida State.

 

A trip to Madison Square Garden in New York City was on the line, as the next game in the bracket is against Minnesota in the final four of the tournament.

 

In the final moments of the Bulldogs’ historic season, they trailed by eight points with 41 seconds to play and fought back to within three points. Raheem Appleby, a junior guard, missed a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.

 

“I thought we had great poise and resilience just to put ourselves in a position to have a chance to tie it,” head coach Michael White said. “I was very proud of our guys. That’s an area we’ve gotten better at, playing from behind. With guards like I have, we haven’t played from behind a whole lot.”

 

Kenneth “Speedy” Smith, a junior guard who led the team with 16 points and 14 rebounds, said the team fought hard last night.

 

“We gave it all we had tonight,” Smith said. “We probably could have given more, but we went down swinging.”

 

Tech wrapped up its season with a 29-8 record. The Bulldogs’ 29 wins tied the program single season record.

 

The Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 25-5 record and won the Conference-USA regular season title in a four-way tie with Middle Tennessee State, Southern Miss and Tulsa. They entered the C-USA tournament as the No. 1 seed but fell to Tulsa in a hard-fought 69-60 loss in the tournament final.

 

Tech played in the NIT after failing to receive a bid to play in the NCAA tournament.

 

The Bulldogs improved to 4-0 on its home floor when playing in the NIT, after defeating the Iona Gaels in a fast-paced contest that saw the Bulldogs come out on top by a score of 89-88. Smith lifted the Bulldogs to victory with a put-back layup with 2.2 seconds on the clock.

 

In the second round of the NIT, Tech defeated the Bulldogs of Georgia by a score of 79-71.

 

The Bulldogs were able to jump out to a quick 26-point lead on Georgia and never looked back.

 

Tech graduates four seniors this year, with Chris Anderson, Cordarius Johnson, Jaron Johnson and Kenyon McNeail making their last efforts on the court last night.

 

White said he was proud of his players and the effort they gave all season long, especially last night.

 

“I thought we had great poise and resilience just to put ourselves in a position to have a chance to tie it,” White said. “I was very proud of our guys. That’s an area we’ve gotten better at, playing from behind. With guards like I have, we haven’t played from behind a whole lot.”

 

Email comments to ktc013@latech.edu or jki008@latech.edu.

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