El Paso, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Alex Hamilton scored 18 points, leading five players in double figures, as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs captured an 88-70 win over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament at the Don Haskins Center.
Kenneth Smith registered the fourth double-double of his career as he tallied 16 points and 10 assists for top-seeded Louisiana Tech (27-6). Jaron Johnson and Kenyon McNeail both dropped in 15 points and Chris Anderson 13, while Michale Kyser pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds.
The fourth-seeded Golden Eagles (27-6) were led by Michael Craig who dropped in 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds off the bench. Jerrold Brooks responded with 14 points, Deonte Houston 12 and Daveon Boardingham 10 in the losing cause.
Trailing by one with just over three minutes remaining in the first half, 21-20, the Bulldogs put together a late 12-2 run and eventually led by six at the break, 32-26. Louisiana Tech shot only 33.3 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes, but of the team's 10 field goals, six came from 3-point range.
The Bulldogs not only closed the first half strong, they also opened on a 19-7 run after intermission to take a commanding 51-33 advantage and eventually cruise to the comfortable victory.
USM came out on the losing end despite shooting 53.6 percent from the floor, but the squad was forced into 21 turnovers and was outscored at the free-throw line, 22-6.
With the victory the Bulldogs, who are now 24-0 this season when leading at halftime, will now take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the title game on Saturday morning for the right to represent C-USA in the NCAA Tournament.