Late Rally Comes Up Short for Bulldogs
Feb. 20, 2016
EL PASO, Texas – A late rally by Louisiana Tech came up short as the Bulldogs could not complete the conference road sweep, suffering a 91-80 loss to the UTEP Miners on Saturday afternoon inside the Don Haskins Center.
LA Tech (20-7, 9-5 C-USA) trailed by as much as 23 with 5:46 remaining in the game, but there was still plenty of fight in the ‘Dogs who despite the hot shooting of UTEP (17-11, 9-6 C-USA).
After scoring just two points in the first half, Alex Hamilton sparked the late run by recording nine points over the next four minutes to pull the Bulldogs to within nine at 85-76.
With the ball, Jacobi Boykins was able to find an open look from beyond the arc, but the shot rimmed out ending LA Tech’s valiant effort in a hostile environment.
The loss snapped the Bulldogs three-game winning streak while the Miners extended their winning streak to six. In doing so, the home team shot a blistering 59.3 percent from the field (35-59) which is the most of any opponent this season.
“They have too many shots early, getting into a really good rhythm,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “The basket got really big for them and made a lot of shots, some easy, but some very difficult. I thought we had moments in the second half where we would chip away, but they had a segment where they went on a run which proved to be too much for us to come back from.
“I am proud of our guys. We could have easily put our heads down and say, ‘This was not our day.’ We fought hard to get back into the game. UTEP was playing keep away and we were able to apply some pressure and get some turnovers and make some baskets. I am proud of the team for staying together.”
The Bulldogs got some good news at the start of the game with Erik McCree getting into the starting lineup after missing Thursday’s game due to an injury. And through the first eight minutes of the game, the Miners held a slim 20-18 lead over the Bulldogs but then went on a 10-0 run to push their lead out to double digits.
LA Tech wound up giving up 50 points in the first stanza, trailing by 14 at intermission. The team did start to string together more defensive stops in the second half, reeling off a 7-0 mini run to slice the deficit down to 10 with 11:50 to play.
However, Merrill Holden picked up his fourth foul which hurt in defending UTEP’s Terry Winn who scored eight straight to stymie the run.
Holden ended up fouling out, as did Derric Jean who came off the bench to register 16 points, tying his career high which he set against UTSA two days ago.
Hamilton finished with a team-high 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting. With his scoring effort, the senior moved up to fifth on the all-time career scoring list, passing Gerrod Henderson (1998-02).
The team ended up shooting 49.2 percent from the field (31-63). Boykins and McCree also scored in double figures, adding 10 points apiece.
UTEP hit nine three-pointers in the contest, four of those coming from Lee Moore who had a game-high 26 points. Seventeen of the 26 came in the first half alone.
LA Tech returns home to take on North Texas on Thursday, Feb. 25. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the American Sports Network.
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