Freshman Duo Come Up Big in One-Point Victory
Jan. 18, 2018
RUSTON – Louisiana Tech had lost its last five games that were decided by four points or less coming into Thursday night.
The tandem combined to score 46 points, including two free throws with 0.9 seconds left from the forward Duruji, to come away with a 66-65 victory over North Texas in front of a season-high 4,236 fans inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
“There will be times where shots aren’t quite falling and things aren’t going the way you want offensively, but there are moments where you have to be gritty and tough and find a way,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “They found a way tonight – through the good times and the bad. Through the turnovers and the some of the mistakes – even when the times weren’t great, they stuck together in the huddle. You could see it in their eyes that they were going to work hard to find a way, and that’s what they did.”
LA Tech (11-9, 2-5 C-USA) was down to nine scholarship players available and its senior Jacobi Boykins fought through a bad poke in the eye early in the contest.
So Archibald and Duruji almost played the entire game and the Bulldogs needed every minute of their effort and every point they provided which turned out to be new career highs.
Duruji finished with 25 points and Archibald added 21 as they combined to go 15-of-23 from the field and 7-of-11 from three-point range. That made up 15 out of 20 made field goals (20-for-50) and seven out of eight triples (8-for-22) for the whole team.
“They really grew up tonight,” Konkol said. “For them to combine for 46 points and all the other things that they did – the activity plays, the energy plays, says a whole lot about where their games can go and how they’re growing. They really stepped up big for us tonight.”
After North Texas (10-9, 3-3 C-USA), who has played in its fair share of close games as well, cut its deficit to one after a Shane Temara three-pointer to start the second half, Duruji sparked a 7-0 run with a three of his own to give LA Tech its largest lead of the game at 36-28 with 17:39 to play. The Mean Green quickly countered with a 10-2 run to tie the game up at 38-all just two minutes later.
After a brief moment of trailing, the ‘Dogs got two more three-pointers from Duruji and a crowd-pleasing putback dunk by Oliver Powell to match the largest lead at 57-49 with 6:13 to go.
Turnovers, 13 to be exact in the second half, eventually took its toll on the home team. North Texas chipped away and took a two-point edge with less than two minutes left.
LA Tech got a couple of much-needed defensive stops and got a two-handed slam from Jy’lan Washington and two free throws from Powell to have a two-point advantage themselves.
With eight seconds on the clock, Roosevelt Smart made an unbalanced three-point shot with Boykins draped all over him to make it the eighth lead change of the game.
A well-designed play drawn up at a timeout ended up with Archibald finding a cutting Duruji under the basket where he was fouled on a block. Despite two timeouts called, he calmly sank both free throws to seal it. He also finished with a team-high seven boards and three blocks while Archibald added six boards and five assists.
North Texas shot 22-of-62 from the field (36 percent) and 31 percent from three-point range (31 percent). Smart led the way for the Mean Green with 23 points on seven made threes.
LA Tech returns to the court on Saturday, Jan. 20 when they host the Rice Owls. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB) or visit the official website at LATechSports.com.
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