Nevada Gets La Tech After Bulldogs Beat Idaho

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - Kyle Gibson had 23 points and Olu Ashaolu scored eight of his 14 in the first five minutes of the second half to help sixth-seeded Louisiana Tech knock off third-seeded Idaho 70-62 Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament.

Gibson made 6 of 9 field goals, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and had four assists for the Bulldogs (15-17), who advance to Friday night's semifinal against second-seeded Nevada (20-11).

"Kyle's been a great player for us all season on both sides of the ball," Louisiana Tech coach Kerry Rupp said.

"When we went to our spread, pick-and-roll stuff on offense, that allowed Kyle to create and make some plays for us," he said. "Olu had to step up and he did."

Mac Hopson had 16 points and Marvin Jefferson 15 for the Vandals
(16-15), who had won six of their last seven and finished the season with their most wins in a season since the 1998-99 team went 16-11.

"This basketball team we had at Idaho this year came a million miles," Idaho Coach Don Verlin said about a team that posted nine WAC wins in the regular season - more than the previous three seasons combined (7).

"If you would have told me were going to win 16 games and finish third in the WAC, we would have taken it. We have set a great foundation for the years to come," he said.

Gibson had 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range early as the Bulldogs made 7 of 10 from long range in the opening half - 8 of 12 for the game - to take a 31-27 halftime lead.

"The thing I was most impressed with Louisiana Tech was how well they shot the ball," Verlin said about the squad that made 54 percent of its field goals and 20 of 25 free throws. "They countered everything we did."

Jefferson scored on consecutive two-handed dunks and Hopson scored in the lane to pull the Vandals to within 37-35. But the Bulldogs answered with a 9-0 run and went ahead for good 46-35 on Jamel Guyton's pair of free throws with 13:38 remaining.

Trevor Morris nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner to cut the lead to 46-38. But Ashaolu came back with two more baskets inside to help push the lead to 52-40 at 11:34.

"The first half was kind of slow," Ashaolu said. "I knew I had to come out in the second half and match their energy."

Idaho's Luciano de Souza followed a pair of free throws with a 3-point goal to pull to within 54-47 at 7:58. He fouled out a minute later but Terrence Simmons hit a 3-pointer to make it 56-50.

Magnum Rolle scored, was fouled and converted the 3-point play to put Louisiana Tech up 60-52.

Morris answered with a 3-point goal to make it 3:27 with 3:27 left. But Gibson made 4 of 4 free throws and Rolle 4 of 6 down the stretch to seal the win.

Nevada beat San Jose State 78-69 in one quarterfinal.

Top-seeded Utah State beat ninth-seeded Fresno State 85-68 to advance to the other semifinal Friday night against fifth-seeded New Mexico State, which beat fourth-seeded Boise State Thursday night 80-70.