Late Three Lifts UTSA over LA Tech, 69-68
Jan. 7, 2017
RUSTON, La. - A 14-point second half lead wouldn't stick as a three pointer from Giovanni De Nicolao with 20 seconds remaining gave UTSA (7-9, 2-1 C-USA) their first lead in the second half and the victory over Louisiana Tech (10-6, 2-1 C-USA), 69-68, on Saturday night in the Thomas Assembly Center.
Louisiana Tech's final chance, a baseline floater from Derric Jean would not fall as UTSA completed their come-from-behind victory.
"The guys want to play well," head coach Eric Konkol said. "They were attentive in that last huddle and looked to execute what we drew up and have practiced before. [UTSA] did a good job of taking it away. You have to give credit to UTSA. They were very tough, physically, tonight. They owned the paint. We really tried to get it in there and get a shot at the rim and they made it difficult, so we weren't able to finish the play there."
The Roadrunners hadn't led since a 23-22 edge with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half, but late in the second half UTSA found themselves in a rhythm and De Nicolao buried the most pivotal shot in the game, a deep three pointer with the game on the line.
Louisiana Tech maintained a double-digit lead for the majority of the second half, but a light came on for UTSA with ten minutes remaining in the contest. Louisiana Tech, who forced 12 turnovers in the first 30 minutes, would force just one Roadrunner turnover the rest of the way.
All the while, the Bulldogs couldn't find the bottom of the basket, making just two field goals over the final seven minutes of play. The combination, led to UTSA slowly chipping away at Louisiana Tech's lead.
"They went to a zone and did a really good job of trying to keep our perimeter shooters uneasy," Konkol said. "We needed to get the ball into the paint more than we did. It is something that we have to improve. We have to take a look at what we are trying to do, evaluate it and make adjustments."
After the two teams traded baskets over the first 12 minutes of action, the Bulldogs did separate themselves from the Roadrunners for the first time, late in the first half. With 6:49 remaining in the period, UTSA took a 23-22 lead on a layup from Jeff Beverly, the Bulldogs picked up the defensive intensity at that point.
The Roadrunners would score just four points over the final six minutes of the first half, as Louisiana Tech forced six turnovers over that stretch, leading to a 15-4 run. The Bulldogs would enter the locker room with a 37-27 lead.
Boykins also stole the show defensively, tying a career-high with five steals. The junior has now totaled 13 steals in his last four games. Also making headlines defensively was Joniah White who blocked four shots in the game.
The Bulldogs are now set to hit the road for a two-game conference road swing, first traveling to Charlotte for a 6 p.m. tipoff with the 49ers on Thursday, Jan. 12. That game is set to be televised on ESPN3.
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