Area College Hoop Scoop: Tech teams seek season sweeps tonight

DAWG DEFENSE:  Kaleb Stewart (4) and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs host Rice tonight at 6 in Ruston.  (Photo by DARRELL JAMES, Louisiana Tech Athletics)

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

Louisiana Tech’s basketball teams are hoping to ride the Groundhog Day spirit tonight.

Both the men’s and women’s teams are looking for a season sweep of Rice squads which have better records and are above Tech in the Conference USA standings with nine games to go in the 20-game league season.

They have open dates Saturday. Both teams are 5-6 in CUSA play.


LOUISIANA TECH: The Bulldogs (12-10, 5-6) shot 59 percent in the second half last Saturday to separate from UTSA and post a 66-55 victory in the Alamo City. Cobe Williams didn’t score at least 20 for the first time in five outings, but he did notch 18, giving him a league-best 12 straight games with at least 16 points. That’s the third-longest string of 16 or more by a Bulldog in 20 years. 

Next game: Tonight at home, tip at 6 against Rice (15-6, 6-4). The Bulldogs rode home happy from Houston last month after an 88-82 overtime win on Jan. 5. Rice leads CUSA with a 79.3 scoring average, 29th nationally. 

NORTHWESTERN STATE:  The Demons (14-8, 6-3 Southland) have won four straight and six of their last seven to sit one win back of Southeastern Louisiana as the second half of league play begins. Senior point guard DeMarcus Sharp posted his first points/assists double-double in Saturday’s romp over Lamar with 23 points and 10 assists. He has three points/rebounds double-doubles this season. His running mate from Missouri State, senior shooting guard Ja’Monta Black, averaged 30 points in the first three wins in NSU’s current streak, but managed only one late 3-pointer against Lamar, which understandably defended him aggressively.

Next game: It’s rinse and repeat in the Southland schedule. Northwestern beat Houston Christian and Lamar at home last week. Now they go for season sweeps, tonight at HCU and Saturday night at Lamar.

GRAMBLING: A bad night at the free throw line (7 of 15) cost the G-Men (13-8, 6-3) Monday night in a showdown for second place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Alcorn outscored GSU 12-3 in the last six minutes to storm out of the Frederick C. Hobdy Assembly Center with a statement win. It snapped the Tigers’ seven-game homecourt win streak.

Next game:  It’s the Alabama swing for Grambling, Saturday at Alabama A&M and Monday at Alabama State. Both are 4-5 in the SWAC.


NORTHWESTERN STATE:  The Lady Demons (9-10, 5-4) rode the hot hand of former Grambling guard Candice Parramore to homecourt wins last week over Houston Christian and Lamar, two teams joining NSU in the middle of the conference standings. Parramore averaged 20 points in those games and has an 18-point average with 50 percent 3-point aim over the last five games after coming back from an ankle injury that sidelined her for three outings. NSU lost its second-leading scorer overall when Australian Shelby Rayner (8.9 ppg, 38 percent on 3s) departed the squad last week, so Parramore’s return was extra beneficial.

Next game: Thursday at HCU, Saturday at Lamar.

LOUISIANA TECH:  The Lady Techsters (12-10, 5-6) stumbled at home Saturday, getting upset 66-63 by UTSA. Coach Brooke Stoehr is hoping it’s a wake-up call. Tech is 9-0 holding teams to 60 points or less, and 8-0 when it wins the rebounding battle. The Techsters lead CUSA with a 34.7 percent 3-point rate and are second in shooting from the floor (44.8 percent) and the line (77.7), also ranking No. 2 in scoring defense (60.6 ppg allowed).

Next game: Thursday at Rice. 

GRAMBLING: A miserable shooting performance, 27 percent, sunk the Lady Tigers (5-15, 4-5) at home Monday night in a 58-52 loss to Alcorn State. Scoring hasn’t come easily for Grambling, which has only Colbi Maples averaging in double-digits overall (13.5). But after a very challenging non-conference slate, Maples (14.1) is joined by Phyllis Allen (11.7) and Leah Morrow (10.6) topping Grambling in SWAC scoring.

Next game: Saturday at Alabama A&M, then Monday at Alabama State.

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