May 14, 2013 4:23 PM by UL Sports Information
Louisiana's Elfrid Payton scored a game-high 27 points to rally Reach USA past Athletas of Lithuania, 87-81, on Tuesday night in the opening game of an eight-game tour of the Far East for Reach USA.
Payton's exploits came after Reach USA trailed by as many as 16 points early in the second half before finishing the game strong offensively to pull out the victory.
"It was a fun game tonight," Payton said. "Even though we haven't been together very long, we played pretty well as a team.
"Today was a long day. We had to travel for most of the day to get here and only arrived a couple of hours before game time," Payton added.
Reach USA arrived in Quianjiang three hours before the 7:30 tipoff. Quianjiang is 13 hours ahead of CDT (Lafayette).
Payton was 10-for-15 from the field and seven-for-eight from the line, to finish with 27 points. He narrowly missed a triple-double, adding a game-high nine assists, nine rebounds and two steals.
Western Kentucky's T.J. Price and Greg Fant also scored in double figures, finishing with 15 and 13 points, respectively, while J.P.Kambola from Marshall posted a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Reach USA used a 47-33 rebounding advantage to overcome some hot-shooting by the opponents from Lithuania. Athletas of Lithuanis shot .500 from the field (33-66) while Reach managed just .427 shooting (35-82).
The game came on the third day of Reach USA's cultural exchange to the Far East.
"The trip has been a lot of fun so far, but I am still trying to get adjusted to the food. It is very different here from Louisiana," Payton said.
Reach USA record is now at 1-0.