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LETU Sports Update 11-27-13

LONGVIEW, November 27, 2013— The LeTourneau University men’s basketball team hosted East Texas Baptist for the 100th meeting between the two schools separated by 30 miles on Tuesday night, at Solheim Arena. The game was not decided until the final 15 seconds as ETBU came away with a 71-66 win on Tuesday night in the ASC opener for both teams.

LeTourneau (1-2, 0-1 ASC) got another strong night off junior reserve guard Josh Thornton, who came off the bench for a game-high 19 points. The DeSoto native added seven rebounds in the defeat. He was joined in double digits by seniors Justin Jones and Ladaria Brown, who added 17 and 12 points, respectively. Jones nearly had his second double double of the young season with a team-best eight boards.

East Texas Baptist (2-1, 1-0 ASC) had four players in double figures including Monty Grays, who had a team-best 17 points and six assists in the win. Backcourt mates Erby Thompson and Dylan Augustine added 14 and 11 points, respectively and on the frontline, Jamil Samuel had a double double with 13 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in the win.

On the flip side of the women’s game, the YellowJackets found themselves trailing by 17, 41-24, at the halftime break. LeTourneau started the second half with a 15-3 spurt to cut the deficit to 44-39 with a Thornton jumper and 13:37 left in the contest.

East Texas Baptist stretched the lead to 10, 51-41, but the Yellow Jackets failed to concede and eventually a 6-1 spurt later in the half put the home team up 61-60 with 3:22 to play. 14 seconds later, the Tigers regained the lead on an Augustine three pointer.

However, Thornton had an answer with his own 3 pointer that put LETU ahead by a 64-63 margin. The two teams traded leads down the stretch on three occasions but not until Samuel made a layup with 51 seconds gave the visitors a 67-66 lead.

A chance for the go-ahead basket by LeTourneau ended with a turnover with 15 seconds to play. Forced to foul, Thompson added two free throws that stretched the lead to 69-66. LeTourneau set up the game-tying shot with a 3 pointer that came up short and two more Tigers free throws after a LETU foul sealed the win.

The YellowJackets will now be idle until Monday, Dec. 2, when they host Centenary College at 7 p.m., in a non-conference tilt.

Three members of the LeTourneau University women’s basketball team had a career-high to lead the YellowJackets to a 74-71 win over East Texas Baptist on Tuesday night in the American Southwest Conference opener for both teams.

The YellowJackets (3-1, 1-0 ASC) were led by the double double performances of sophomore Julencia Curtis – 18 points and 13 rebounds and senior Alexis Wighaman – 14 points and 13 rebounds. Both performances were career-best numbers for the LeTourneau duo. The tandem was joined in double figures by the third career-best performance on the night for LeTourneau from senior Ashley Fajardo, who had 17 points on the strength of five 3 pointers. YellowJackets’ freshman Ashley Reed added six big points and junior Rebecca Stewart came off the bench to score nine points including two clutch 3 pointers.

“Curtis, Wighaman and Fajardo picked a great night to have career best. The depth of this roster is vital to our success. We have a number of young ladies who can really provide energy and scoring on any given night,” said LeTourneau University head women’s basketball coach Corey Thomaston.

The Tigers (0-1, 0-1 ASC) were able to land four in double digits in the defeat. Kelly Johnstone and Kendall Festervand each hit three 3 pointers en route to 13 points to share in team-high honors. April Leonard and Amanda Rucker added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The game was tied twice in the final 2:54 but a 3 pointer by LeTourneau freshman Ashley Reed with 18 seconds left proved to be the difference. The contest was close throughout the night as it was tied on seven occasions and the lead exchanged hands 20 times. Thomaston and the YellowJackets are 3-1 for the first time since the 1996-97 campaign.

As explained by Thomaston, the YellowJackets got contributions from the entire roster in the win. “I'm very proud of the relentless effort by our young ladies tonight. Some nights it comes down not to hitting shots, but pure desire, and that was the difference for us tonight,” said the seventh-year head coach for LETU.

With LeTourneau holding a four-point halftime advantage, 36-32, East Texas Baptist scored the first 13 points of the second half to build a 45-36 lead with 16:11 to play. The resilience of the YellowJackets fed off the energetic pre-holiday crowd. “It was a great college basketball game and I'm very thankful for the crowd from both sides willing to support these two fine programs,” said Thomaston.

LeTourneau managed to regain the lead when Stewart hit her first collegiate 3 with 9:11 to go that put the host YellowJackets ahead 53-52. ETBU answered with a layup to take a 54-53 lead but it would be the final advantage of the night for the visitors.

LeTourneau answered, again, with a layup by Curtis and a 3 pointer by Reed gave the YellowJackets a lead of 58-54 with 7:27 to play. Eventually, LETU would build the lead to seven but that was not safe as the Tigers eventually clawed back to tie the game at 69 on a 3 pointer by Festervand with 2:54 to go. ETBU took a 71-69 lead when Festervand made a back-door layup with 1:20 to go.

However, the YellowJackets called on Curtis again, who made a layup to tie it at 71 with 1:04. In an attempt to go ahead the Tigers missed a 3 pointer with 44 seconds to go and Wighaman came down with her 13th board of the night to set the stage for the game-winning 3 pointer by Reed with 18 seconds. A three point attempt by ETBU with three seconds to go came up short to clinch the win for the host YellowJackets.

The YellowJackets will now be idle until Thursday, Dec. 5 when they host Mississippi College at 5:30 p.m.

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