Holding UA-PB to 51 points is testament to the Tech defense’s effectiveness. So is limiting the Golden Eagles to 31 percent shooting and forcing them into 16 turnovers. And the Red Raiders (9-1), keyed by Robert Turner’s dogged efforts, held Marcel Mosely, who entered the game averaging 18 points per game and shooting 43 percent from the floor, to 14 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-9) was occasionally able to get to the rack with penetration and to draw fouls, but Tech allowed few conversions in close. In fact, the Golden Eagles scored only 10 points in the paint.
Tech won the battle of the glass 37-25, but seemed even more dominant than that. As often as not, the three players closest to a defensive rebound were all Red Raiders. Bigs Norense Odiase and Isaiah Manderson led Tech on the glass with seven and six rebounds respectively.
The Red Raiders got off to a sluggish start on offense, committing three turnovers in their first four possessions. And as late as 16:28 to play in the opening half, the Golden Eagles enjoyed a 6-5 advantage. But that would be the visitors’ last lead.
A Justin Gray layup off a Turner assist gave Tech an 8-6 lead at the 15:12 mark and the Red Raiders would not trail again, although they found it difficult to definitively put Arkansas-Pine Bluff away.
Hence, following two Mosely free throws with 9:15 to play, it was still a one-possession game, 14-17 in favor of the Red Raiders.
But then Tech went on a mini-spurt thanks do an Odiase layup and five straight points by Toddrick Gotcher that gave the Red Raiders their first double-digit lead, 24-14 at the 8:04 mark.
A Ghiavonni Robinson dunk with 3:18 left in the half, however, made the score 31-26 in favor of Tech, and the game was still uncomfortably close. The Red Raiders did score the final four points of the half, and led 35-26 at the intermission.
Playing the entire second half without starting forward Zach Smith, who was contending with a back problem, the Red Raiders nevertheless methodically pulled away.
Tech held the Golden Eagles to just five points in the first 10:31 of the second half, and before two Tevin Hammond free throws broke the drought with 9:28 to play, the Red Raiders had forged a 51-31 lead on a Devaugntah Williams 3-pointer.
Center/forward Justin Jamison, a highly prized recruit who had hitherto been silent this season, entered the game with approximately 9:30 to play and scored eight of Tech’s final 19 points. He also chipped in three rebounds, an assist and a steal in just nine minutes of action.
A Trent Whiting layup with 5:56 to play pulled UA-PB to within 13 at 44-57, but that was as close as the visitors would get. Jamison, Gray and Keenan Evans all scored multiple points down the stretch to slam the door on the tenacious Golden Lions.
The Red Raiders are next in action against Loyola of Illinois (8-2) at 7:00 p.m. Monday in Las Vegas as part of the Continental Tires Las Vegas Classic.