NORFOLK, Va. — Louisiana Tech guard Jaron Johnson scored seven points down the stretch to help the Bulldogs pull away from the Old Dominion Monarchs 71-66 on Saturday night at the Constant Center.
With the game tied at 51 and 5:18 left, Johnson made one of two free throws to give the Bulldogs the lead for good. His steal and fastbreak layup capped an 8-0 run that put the Bulldogs ahead 59-51. Johnson then added a putback and a step-back jumper as Louisiana Tech (22-6, 10-3 Conference USA) won for the fifth time in six games.
The Monarchs made things interesting late, as a one-handed follow dunk by forward Richard Ross got them within three with 20 seconds left. But forward Chris Anderson and guard Kenyon McNeail capped a strong Louisiana Tech free throw performance by going 6 of 6 from the line. For the game the Bulldogs made 28 of 34 free throws.
Guard Alex Hamilton scored 20 points, McNeail added 14 and Johnson 10 for the Bulldogs, who scored 17 points off 14 Old Dominion turnovers.
Old Dominion guard Aaron Bacote led all scorers with 23 points, and guard Dimitri Batten added 17. The Monarchs (13-15, 7-6) fell despite shooting 46.9 percent from the field and connecting on 8 of 14 3-pointers.
Louisiana Tech shot 35.2 percent from the field and 21.7 percent from 3-point range (5 of 23).
Old Dominion held up fairly well early under Louisiana Tech’s pressure defense in the first half, in part because the Bulldogs could not make enough shots to set up their press. Louisiana Tech missed 21 of its first 25 shots from the field and their first eight 3-pointers until guard Alex Hamilton got one to fall with 7:14 remaining.
The Monarchs, meanwhile, used 3-pointers from guards Dimitri Batten, Aaron Bacote and Ambrose Mosley to lead by as many as seven.
Free throws kept the Bulldogs in it in the first half. They made 12 of 13 from the line to mitigate their 25 percent shooting from the field.
A 3-pointer by guard Kenyon McNeail with 22 seconds left in the half looked to be enough to send Louisiana Tech into the break with the lead, but Bacote hit a layup at the buzzer to tie the score at 30.
Bacote had 15 first-half points to lead Old Dominion. Forward Chris Anderson scored 12 to pace Louisiana Tech, which scored nine points off eight Monarchs turnovers.
NOTES: The Bulldogs came into the game with an 18-0 record when forcing at least 15 turnovers. They induced only 10 turnovers in Thursday night’s 75-68 loss at East Carolina, a defeat that snapped a four-game Louisiana Tech winning streak. … Louisiana Tech has gone 9-3 since junior guard and leading scorer Raheem Appleby went down with an ankle injury on Jan. 9. Appleby was averaging 16.1 points per game. … The two schools had never met in men’s basketball but share a rich history in women’s hoops, including meetings in the 1983 Final Four and the 1979 AIAW title game.
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