Jackets Win 5th Straight, Hold Off 'Roos

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SHERMAN, Texas -- LeTourneau University men's basketball team overcame a second half deficit to pull away from host Austin College, 89-76, Monday. It was the YellowJackets' first game in 13 days, and the victory extended the winning streak to five straight.

LETU improved to 6-1 overall, while Austin College fell to 3-4 after dropping its fourth consecutive game. The YellowJackets improved to 5-1 away from Solheim Arena.

The Jackets, who broke a 54-54 tie eight minutes into the second half when John Argue sank a pair of free throws, trailed by one at halftime. They fell behind by three early in the second half before putting together a 12-2 run that ignited this road-tested club.

"We challenged the guys at halftime to be quicker to spots on defense and better at the 50-50 balls, and I like how they responded," LeTourneau coach Dan Miller said.

Austin College, which shot 53 percent in the first half, erased the YellowJackets' seven-point lead after Justin Moore scored at the 16:06 mark. The Kangaroos went on a 7-0 run to tie it at 52-52. After Brick Fosnight scored in the paint to help LETU reclaim the lead, Michael Holland threw down a dunk in transition as the 'Roos knotted the game for the fifth time. Warren Richardson rammed home a dunk of his own as the Jackets crept out to a two-possession lead midway through the second half, but Austin College whittled it down to one on Devin Roland's layup. 

Nate West converted a three-point play, and Kyle Matthews had a steal that led to Fosnight's layup and a six-point LeTourneau lead with nine minutes to play. The 'Roos cut it to four, and then after Andrew Eberhardt knocked down a 3-pointer that extended LETU's lead to nine, Austin College got within five on a lay-in by Holland at the 4:54 mark. But Fosnight stuck a big three to stretch the lead back to eight. The 'Roos never drew any closer.

"Austin College played a really good game, and we are continuing to search for that 40-minute complete game of effort, focus and smart basketball," Miller said. 

West finished with 19 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and four steals. John Argue had 15 points, eight boards and two blocks. Fosnight and Moore each had 13 points and four rebounds. Garrett Beene had seven points on 3 of 6 shooting. Korrin Taylor, Eberhardt and Richardson each scored six points, and Matthews grabbed a career-high nine rebounds.

Holland had 22 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals, and Justice Mercadel scored 14 points, grabbed five boards, and had two blocks and two steals for the 'Roos.

"Korrin, Kyle and Garrett gave us a good spark when some of our starters had some lapses," Miller said. 

LETU scored 25 points off 21 Austin College turnovers. The YellowJackets' bench outscored the 'Roos, 30-18.

LeTourneau will meet No. 10 Wisconsin-Platteville in the Cru Holiday Classic at Mary Hardin-Baylor Dec. 27. The YellowJackets play Whitman, which is receiving votes in the D3Hoops.com national poll, the next day.

"Overall, we are pleased that we are 6-1, and excited that everyone can get some time with their families to celebrate Christmas before a very tough Cru Classic," Miller said.