Bulldogs Prevail in 78-70 win over Miners

Jan. 31, 2016

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RUSTON – The St. Petersburg duo of Jacobi Boykins and Dayon Griffin put on a shooting clinic as the sophomore guards combined to hit nine three-pointers to help Louisiana Tech prevail in a 78-70 win over UTEP on Sunday afternoon in front of 4,131 fans inside the Thomas Assembly Center.

For the second straight game it was a balanced attack as all five LA Tech (16-5, 5-3 C-USA) starters scored in double figures with Boykins tying his career high with 18 and Griffin adding 16.

As hot as the St. Pete connection was from beyond the arc and how active the Bulldog defense was in tying a season high with 23 forced turnovers, the game was still nip-and-tuck with nine lead changes and nine ties.

The ninth tie came at 12:09 mark after a driving layup by Dominic Artis of UTEP (11-11, 3-6 C-USA). The ‘Dogs proceeded to go on a 12-3 run to grab a nine-point lead, their largest of the game so far.

The Miners sliced the deficit down to four on multiple occasions, but the home team hit their last six free throw attempts to seal their third straight victory.

“We just stayed together and kept finding ways to score against their zones and got some stops,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “It was a real collective effort. We had five guys in double-figures and we defended them well from three. We were able to turn them over a good bit, not a lot of live ball turnovers, but still we played solid defense.

“[Jacobi and Dayon] are playing really well. The great part is that they are just sophomores. They are really growing and learning right in front of our eyes and doing it in different ways. They are both catching and shooting the ball really well. Their defense is improving as well. They are both now starting to take pride in guarding some of these really good guards we are playing against.”

LA Tech struggled to shoot the ball early on as it made just four of its first 21 shot attempts and found itself down 21-14 with eight minutes to go in the first stanza.

That is when the three-ball started to go down as Griffin, Erik McCree and Boykins went back-to-back-to-back to take a two-point lead.

The Bulldogs made it an 11-0 run and a four-point advantage on the next offensive play when Alex Hamilton heaved a perfectly placed half-court lob to Merrill Holden for the slam.

As was the case for much of the night, as soon as LA Tech would try to pull away UTEP would counter to tie it or take the lead. On three separate occasions, the Bulldogs were up by four, but the Miners responded with four points of their own to knot the game up.

The biggest basket of the game arguably came from Griffin and it was not a three-pointer. With the Bulldogs on a three-minute scoring drought and clinging to a 65-60 lead with a little over three minutes to go, the guard drove baseline and connected on a reverse layup.

McCree, Hamilton and Holden all had big games. McCree registered 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds en route to his sixth double-double of the season.

Hamilton had an off-shooting day but still recorded 14 points to go along with nine assists and two steals. Last but not least, Holden tallied 12 points while going a perfect 6-of-6 from the foul line and rejected three shots.

The team ended up shooting 41.7 percent from the field (25-60) and 44.4 percent from long range (12-27).

UTEP went 27-of-53 (50.9 percent) while only hitting two three-pointers in the contest. Artis led the way for the Miners by nearly registering a triple-double with 23 points, 10 boards and nine assists.

LA Tech returns to the road to face Rice on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7 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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