Bulldogs Top Owls in Houston

Jan. 24, 2015

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HOUSTON, Texas - Louisiana Tech did a complete 180 turn on defense from Thursday to Saturday, allowing the opponent Rice to shoot just 33 percent from the field which led to a 58-45 win for the Bulldogs inside Tudor Fieldhouse.

Coming off a game where they allowed an astronomical 72 percent shooting by North Texas in the first half, LA Tech (15-5, 6-1 C-USA) made the quick turn, regrouped and refueled to hold one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country in Rice (6-12, 3-4 C-USA) to just five made threes.

The second half was the most impressive, holding the Owls to five total field goals and only one make from beyond the arc. The 45 points was the fewest by Rice in a single game all season.

"Outside of a handful of possessions, I thought we were really good defensively to be able to limit the amount of three-point attempts from one of the better three-point shooting teams in America and a team that executes extremely well," head coach Michael White said. "I thought we were really locked in mentally and we were good enough physically to pressure them and to keep pressure on their actions."

The three-ball was not as kind to the Bulldogs either going 3-of-10 until they hit their final three attempts compliments of Erik McCree, Jacobi Boykins and Raheem Appleby to extend the lead to double digits late.

Rice jumped out to a 17-13 lead, but LA Tech responded with a 10-0 run, seven points from Alex Hamilton, to grab a six-point advantage that was sparked by its defense which held the Owls scoreless for five minutes.

The Owls ended their drought, scoring five straight points to pull to within one, but the Bulldogs ended a five-minute drought of their own when Boykins came off the bench and hit a corner three-pointer to help give the team a 28-24 halftime lead.

Having enough legs in the second half was a concern but that was not the case as the `Dogs came out of the break with even more energy, forcing four turnovers in the first four minutes of the second stanza to grab their largest lead of the game, 37-26, with 17:35 to play.

"I really challenged our guys about the amount of three-point attempts Rice got off in the first half, regardless of how many they made," White said. "The whole game plan was to negate the amount of attempts they get off. They rely on the three more than anyone in college basketball and they got off 14 in the first half which was unacceptable.

"They only got off five three-point attempts [in the second half] so I thought we did a great job of correcting those issues with a renewed focus. I was proud of that effort."

The Owls fought back and pulled to within five, 39-34, on a made layup by Seth Gearheart, but McCree responded with an eight-foot jumper in the paint.

The score was stuck on 41-34 for over five minutes of action until LA Tech went on a 10-2 run to put the game out of reach.

Hamilton and McCree led the team in scoring with 13 points apiece with the team shooting 21-of-47 from the field for 45 percent. McCree also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.

On defense, the Bulldogs forced 18 turnovers and were stifling in the half-court, holding Rice's best player Marcus Jackson to just 12 points. Gearhart ended up leading the Owls in scoring with 16.

LA Tech returns home to take on WKU on Thursday at 6 p.m. with first place in C-USA on the line. The game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.

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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