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LA Tech opens C-USA Tournament with victory over Charlotte - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

LA Tech opens C-USA Tournament with victory over Charlotte

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El Paso, TX -

Courtesy: LA Tech Athletics

Michale Kyser scored a career-high 20 points and Alex Hamilton added 19 as No. 1 seed Louisiana Tech used a big second half to pull away from No. 9 seed Charlotte, 86-65, at the Don Haskins Center to advance in the 2014 Conference USA Tournament.

Between the two, they converted on 16-of-22 from the field to help LA Tech (26-6) move into the semifinals to face the No. 4 seed Southern Miss which defeated the host team UTEP, 64-56, earlier on Thursday. USM defeated the Bulldogs 80-71 back on Jan. 19 in Hattiesburg during the regular season meeting and in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament last season.

"I believe this was his best game as a Bulldog," said head coach Michael White on Kyser's performance. "He really ran the floor and outran their bigs. He was 9-of-11 from the field; that's a pretty good shooting night.

"The assist/turnover ratio was probably the second biggest factor in the game. We did a good job with our pressure. We did a good job offensively valuing the basketball."

Kenneth Smith added eight assists in the game as he broke the Conference USA single season assists record, giving him 245 on the year. Smith broke the previous record of 239 set by UAB's Aaron Johnson during the 2010-11 season.

Kyser hit his first five shots of the game while adding a game-high nine rebounds and also two blocks in 32 minutes of action.

After Charlotte scored the first basket of the game to lead 2-0, the Bulldogs responded with eight straight points, including four by Hamilton off back-to-back turnovers by Charlotte (17-13) to take an 8-2 advantage. With Tech leading 18-13 following a layup by the 49ers Willie Clayton with 13:34 to play, Kyser scored 10 straight points. His dunk with 7:35 to play gave Tech its first double digit lead at 28-17.

LA Tech was able to extend the lead to 33-19 with 6:12 still to go in the first stanza on a driving layup by Cordarius Johnson and held a 10-point edge going into halftime, 36-26.

Pierria Henry got Charlotte started with seven points early in the second half including a jumper with 17:50 to play, but the Bulldogs answered as Kyser's layup ignited a 10-0 run. Raheem Appleby's floater with 14:18 to play in the second half gave Tech a 46-29 lead.

The lead ballooned to 20 at 61-41 on the second three-pointer by Cordarius Johnson midway through the second half but Charlotte gave one last push. Behind a barrage of three-pointers by Shawn Lester, the 49ers cut the deficit to 71-60 with 4:31 to play in the game.

It was as close as the 49ers would get though. Tech then scored 11 straight, including five points by Kyser, who bested his previous career-high of 17 set against Florida Atlantic back in January.

"I just had to step up for my team because we had some players like Chris in foul trouble," said Kyser. "I had to do whatever I could do to try to get our team to go to the next round, to keep us going, keep us motivated and keep us inside the game."

C. Johnson added 14 points and Chris Anderson chipped in with 12 points despite being in foul trouble most of the game. As a team, the Bulldogs shot 49.2 percent from the field (31-63).

On defense, LA Tech forced 16 turnovers resulting in 17 points.

Henry and Terrence Williams led Charlotte with 13 points as the 49ers connected on just 37.9 percent (22-58).

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