Duruji Puts Exclamation Point on 73-60 Win

Feb. 15, 2018

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RUSTON – With the score tied midway through the second half, Louisiana Tech was able to close the deal on Thursday night on national television as the Bulldogs took down the UAB Blazers, 73-60, inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

There were plenty of highlights on offense like the 11 made three-pointers and the three dunks – one-handed tomahawks by Jy’lan Washington and Derric Jean and also the exclamation point by Anthony Duruji with the two-handed 360 slam.

The game was won though by LA Tech (16-11, 7-7 C-USA) on the defensive side of the ball with their energy. They forced 17 turnovers (four of which were charges taken by Derric Jean) while generating nine steals and six blocks.

The Bulldogs built as much as a 14-point lead in the first half, but that advantage slowly dwindled. Next thing you knew, UAB (16-11, 7-7 C-USA) had fought back to knot things up at 47-47 with 10:52 to go.

Head coach Eric Konkol called a timeout and the ‘Dogs proceeded to go on a 9-2 run with three-pointers from DaQuan Bracey, Exavian Christon and Duruji.

“There is always adversity in games,” Konkol said. “I really thought they handled it well. We saw some great leadership in our huddle. There was a look in their eyes. They went out, got a few stops, and executed on offense to get the ball rolling again and we were able to finish the game.

“I think the experience a lot of our guys are gaining, they have been in these situations before now. They know what that feels like. The team is coming together, especially with the leadership tonight in doing things with great effort on both ends of the floor.”

The Blazers tried to hang around as they got back to within two possessions at 58-52 with 5:16 to play. That was when the Bulldogs got five straight points from the senior Jacobi Boykins, including his first three-pointer of the night after missing his first four attempts.

For good measure, Duruji connected on his fourth made three a minute before receiving a breakaway football pass from fellow freshman Amorie Archibald on an out-of-bounds play which he brought the hammer down.

“February is the month of separation,” Konkol said. “You are either trending up or down, you don’t stay the same. I feel like we are trending upwards. How far it takes us, we will see. If we come with a great mindset of how we can get better tomorrow, we will continue to trend upwards.”

LA Tech used an early 9-0 run to take an 11-3 lead and force a UAB timeout. The ‘Dogs forced another early UAB timeout when Jean hit his second three-pointer to go up 24-12 with 11:56 remaining in the first half. The lead spiked on the next possession when Bracey went backdoor for the uncontested layup.

Duruji was one of four Bulldogs to score in double figures, leading the way with a game-high 21 points (second time this season he has scored 20+ in a single game). Bracey added 11 points to go along with five assists off the bench while Jean and Archibald each added 10.

As a team, LA Tech shot 45 percent from the field (27-60) and 41 percent from three-point range (11-27). They also connected on eight of 11 free throw attempts.

UAB was limited to just 36 percent shooting from the field (23-64) and 32 percent from beyond the arc (7-22). The Blazers had three players score double-digit points, led by guard Zack Bryant who had 16. Guard Nate Darling added 14 while forward Chris Cokley had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

LA Tech returns to action for its final home game of the 2017-18 season on Saturday, Feb. 17 against league-leader Middle Tennessee. 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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