Andrew Fielding-US PRESSWIRE
Denver was done in by poor free throw shooting and turnovers in first-ever Western Athletic Conference contest.
The Denver Pioneers fell behind early at Louisiana Tech and were unable to recover, losing 68-60 in their first game as a member of the Western Athletic Conference Saturday night. The Bulldogs ran out to an 18-8 lead with nine minutes to play in the first half, and the Pioneers never again got within three points of the home squad. A nascent Denver second-half rally that drew the Pioneers within six points was snuffed out by a clutch Kenyon McNeail three-point bucket.
Denver (4-7, 0-1) was led by forward Royce O'Neale, who scored 18 points and added seven rebounds while playing 39 minutes for the Pioneers. Chris Udofia added 10 points and six boards. Cam Griffin and Chase Hallam each had nine points. The Pioneers were done in by poor shooting from behind the arc and at the charity stripe; Denver shot just 21 percent from three and 10/17 at the free throw line.
Louisiana Tech (10-3, 1-0) got 12 points from Raheem Applebee and 10 each from guards Kenneth Smith and Kenyon McNeail. The Bulldogs managed just 43.4 percent shooting, but forced 16 Pioneers turnovers and made 6/13 three-point attempts.
Denver next travels to Texas-Arlington for a New Year's Eve clash before returning home to face Texas State on January 3.