LETU Jackets take control of third thanks to late game heroics
Longview, Tx — Freshman Ladaria Brown scored 11 points in the last minute while freshman Chris Hynes banked a three pointer in at the buzzer to send the American Southwest Conference matchup against the Mississippi College Choctaws into overtime. From there, the Jackets took control and won a hard fought game by the score of 81-79 to take control of third place in the ASC East.
The Choctaws were on fire early on, jumping out to a 6-0 lead, but LeTourneau responded with a free throw from Brown, a jumper from junior Chad Williams, and a three pointer from senior Deitrich Williams to tie it back at six.
Mississippi College buried a three, but senior Cristian Driver answered right back with a three pointer of his own to tie it back at nine.
The Chowtaws then took control and went on an 8-0 run to go on top 17-9. Senior Kendrae Carter got a couple of nice layups to fall in the post as the score went to 18-14 at the halfway point of the first half.
Mississippi College got their lead out to 10 in the next five minutes with some great looks offensively. As LeTourneau tried to make a run back at the athletic Choctaws, MC would respond withheld their lead at 33-24 going into the break. The Jackets only scored four points in the final four minutes.
After a basket by the Choctaws to start the second half, LeTourneau went to work with layups from Driver and D. Williams followed by a three pointer from Driver to make it a four point game. However, the Choctaws extended their lead back to 10 at the 10:55 mark.
Again the Jackets stormed from behind with layups from D. Williams and junior Jusin Jones and Brown's first three pointer to make it a three point game. The two teams exchaged baskets and went back and forth, but the Choctaws looked to be too much on this day as they went on a run to increase their lead to a game high 11 with 1:52 remaining in the game.
Driver would not let the Jackets die as he buried a three to make it an eight point game. After a pair of missed free throws, Brown hit a three pointer at the 1:02 mark to get it down to a five point game.
Coach Davis subbed in his bench to force a foul, but they did even better as sophomore Zach Driver forced a turnover by stealing the inbounds pass and throwing it off the Choctaw players foot.
The starters came right back in and Brown buried another three pointer to make it a two point game. It seemed like it would not be enough as Mississippi College hit four straight free throws to go up by six.
However, Brown made a layup to make it a four point game with 16 seconds to go. The Choctaws missed two free throws and Brown struck again with a long three pointer to get the game down to one. After MC made two free throws with four seconds to go, Hynes dribbled quickly up the court and let go a long 30 footer that went off the backboard and in at the buzzer to tie the game at 73 and force overtime.
In the extra time, the Choctaws held a 76-74 lead, but Brown again buried another three to give LeTourneau its first lead of the game with 2:40 to go. After a made free throw from Mississippi College, Jones got a long jumper to fall, but the Choctaws got a layup of their own to tie it at 79.
Jones fought his way and drew the foul, hitting 1-of-2 free throws, to give the Jackets a one point lead with 53 ticks on the clock. Each team exchange possessions and it looked as though MC had the go ahead bucket in the final seconds. However, great defense forced the miss shot and Brown pulled down the rebound and was fouled with 0.5 seconds remaining. He hit one shot to seal the game and missed the other one on purpose to give LeTourneau the win.
Brown was unreal, scoring 24 points on the night, including 19 in the second half and four in the overtime period while making five three pointers. He also pulled down 10 rebounds for a double-double and had three steals and two assists. Driver added 16 while connecting on four threes while D. Williams had 12 points, six rebounds, five steals, and four assists. Jones had 11 points and nine rebounds while Hynes also added five assists to go with five points.
The bench that forced a key turnover and made other plays to give the Jackets a chance late in the game included Z. Driver, Carter, sophomore Aaron Frizell, sophomore Brandon Harris, sophomore Franco Muniz, and sophomore Paul All as they played tight defense.
After shooting poorly in the first half, LeTourneau shot 50% in the second half and 43% from the field, 41% from behind the arch, and an abysmal 48% from the free throw line for the game. The Jackets were outrebounded 51-45 and did lose the turnover battle 25-23, but still came away with the huge victory.
LeTourneau now sits in third place in the East and is only a game back of Texas-Dallas and Texas-Tyler for first. They travel to Marshall on Thursday as they take on East Texas Baptist in ASC play. Tipoff is set for 7:30 and Live Audio will be brought to you by Stretch Internet.