McCree Powers Bulldogs to 72-66 Win over Roadrunners
Feb. 11, 2017
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – It seemed like déjà vu for Louisiana Tech on Saturday evening when playing UTSA.
Just like in the previous game back in early January, the Bulldogs held the lead for the majority of the game and the Roadrunners were able to hit a couple of late three-pointers to pull to within a possession.
However, this time LA Tech closed the deal in large part due to redshirt senior Erik McCree who had a game-high 25 points and a key block in the final seconds to take the 72-66 road victory inside the Convocation Center.
McCree ended up hitting a career-high six three-pointers and the rejection came with 13 seconds left with the Bulldogs up four. The forward then hit both free throws and got the final rebound, his ninth, to complete the Texas road sweep.
“There was some déjà vu because they hit a really tough three off the glass and we knew they were going to keep coming as us,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “The experience has been good and sometimes even the heartbreak has been good [with playing in close games]. It allows you to take a look at things and see what you can get better at.
“I am most happy about our rebounding. This was an elite rebounding team we were facing. I thought our guys focus was at a very high level with what we needed to do defensively. It was the difference.”
As a team, LA Tech (18-8, 10-3 C-USA) came out cold, missing its first six three-pointers. However, McCree hit his first with 14:14 to play to go up by four.
The lead grew to as much as 10 in the first half at 28-18 when freshman DaQuan Bracey beat the shot clock with a three-pointer. Fellow freshman Jalen Harris came off the bench to hit two triples of his own, but UTSA (11-14, 6-6 C-USA) nailed one of its own as time expired to get to within six at 42-36 at intermission.
The start of the second half did not go the way LA Tech wanted. The Roadrunners scored the first five points and the Bulldogs missed their first four shots and picked up four quick fouls.
A driving layup by Derric Jean capped an 11-0 run to give the ‘Dogs a 53-41 advantage with 13:55 left to go.
Still holding a double-digit lead with four minutes to play, UTSA rode the back of Lucas O’Brien who hit five-three pointers until its leading scorer Jeff Beverly took over and hit back-to-back threes to pull to within two at 68-66 and 1:14 remaining.
LA Tech had done a tremendous job defending Beverly who had 12 points and had a layup opportunity to even the score, but White blocked the shot and the ball ended up going out of bounds on the Roadrunners.
After a perfectly executed offensive play with Bracey throwing a bounce pass to Omar Sherman who had the strong finish at the rim to go up by two possessions, it was McCree who had the key block on O’Brien from the left wing to help avenge the January loss at home while also handing UTSA just its second home loss of the season.
“I think Erik is getting better and better,” Konkol said. “He is so focused on doing whatever it takes to be successful. Today, it was rebounding and scoring. He made all of his free throws, he had three assists. He is growing as a player and as a coach that is what you always want for your guys.”
LA Tech ended up shooting 46 percent from the field (23-50) and 39 percent from beyond the arc (10-26), marking the fourth straight game hitting double-figure triples. The freshmen Harris and Bracey joined McCree in double-digit points with 12 apiece. Bracey also had a team-high five assists, bringing his season total to 145 which set the freshman record.
UTSA was held to 38 percent from the field (23-60) but hit eight three-pointers. Five of those came from O’Brien who had a team-high 23 points.
Most importantly, the Bulldogs won the rebounding battle, 35-32, versus the top rebounding team in the league.
LA Tech returns to the TAC in its next league matchup on Thursday, Feb. 16 versus Florida Atlantic. Tipoff is set for 6:30 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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