Bulldogs Beat on the Boards, Fall in Final Home Game
Feb. 17, 2018
RUSTON – It was a struggle in the rebounding category for Louisiana Tech in its final home game of the 2017-18 season.
The Bulldogs got outrebound 44-25 which led to 19 second chance points for Middle Tennessee in what ended up as an 87-70 loss to the Blue Raiders on Saturday night in front of the largest crowd of the season with 4,847 fans inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
LA Tech (16-12, 7-8 C-USA) found itself down as much as 21 points early in the second half after league-leader Middle Tennessee (22-5, 14-1 C-USA) went on a 16-0 run.
There was no quit in the ‘Dogs though. They applied a ton of full-court pressure that eventually led to them cutting the deficit down to six with 7:18 still to play.
However, Middle Tennessee did exactly what they did to LA Tech earlier this season in Murfreesboro and that was close the game out. And it was in large part to their 18 offensive rebounds, 12 three-pointers and only missing one free throw all night out of 22 attempts from the foul line.
“The difference in the game was the rebounding,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “You have to give Middle Tennessee credit. They played with good pace and flow. I thought we contested a lot of shots and they made some really difficult ones. But the ones they missed, they got a lot of them back. Their physicality inside was the difference in the game.
“It is something we talked about all week. They are the No. 1 rebounding team in our league, both offensively and defensively. We talked about the type of physicality we would need to hold them to just one shot. It is a lesson for us in where we need to get better.”
Trailing just 19-17 after a made three-pointer by Amorie Archibald and two free throws by Exavian Christon, the Blue Raiders got four straight offensive rebounds that ended with an old-fashioned three-point play by Brandon Walters.
On the next two possessions, Middle Tennessee took advantage of a loose ball and another second-chance opportunity to sink back-to-back threes to go up by 11.
LA Tech hung around though, getting back-to-back triples from Jacobi Boykins to pull to within three at 36-33. Giddy Potts would up the lead to six at halftime, hitting his own three to end the first stanza.
Archibald connected on his second three on the Bulldogs opening possession of the second half to make the deficit, 41-36, with 19:15 remaining. That was when the Blue Raiders exploded for a 16-0 run to balloon their lead at 57-36 five minutes later.
A four-point play by Anthony Duruji, followed by a corner three-pointer by Christon, sliced the deficit down to six – 69-63. Middle Tennessee’s Nick King responded with a difficult and-one on a baseline jumper which started a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach.
LA Tech only managed to shoot 38 percent from the field (19-of-50). For the fourth straight game, they connected for double-digit three-pointers, making 12 out of 28 for 43 percent.
Boykins, in his final game in the TAC, scored a team-high 22 points with six triples. Duruji was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 11 points to go along with a team-high six rebounds and two blocks.
Middle Tennessee went 27-of-58 from the field for 47 percent and 12-of-23 from beyond the arc for 52 percent. Four Blue Raiders scored double-digit points, led by King who had a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
LA Tech will be on the road for its final three regular season games, starting on Thursday, Feb. 22 in El Paso, Texas versus UTEP. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CT.
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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