Bulldogs Struggle Down the Stretch, Fall to Miners

Feb. 23, 2018

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EL PASO, Texas – Louisiana Tech put itself in great position to grab a conference road win, but UTEP closed the game out on a 6-0 run and got a late tip-in to pull it out in a final score of 74-72 on Thursday night inside the Don Haskins Center.

LA Tech (16-13, 7-9 C-USA) was finally able to string together some stops on defense which led to a 7-0 run and a five-point lead with two minutes remaining.

However, costly turnovers, missed shots and untimely fouls allowed UTEP (9-18, 4-11 C-USA) to get two free throws, an uncontested layup and an offensive rebound and putback to take the close game.

It was the 10th time this season the Bulldogs have been in a game decided by four points or less. They have been on the wrong side of those games seven times now.

“We needed a key stop, we needed to take care of the basketball and we fouled at in-opportune times,” head coach Eric Konkol said after the game. “We needed to execute down the stretch and the game would have been different. “We played with a lot more spirit in the second half. In the second half, you could feel that time was necessary and the guys were rising to the occasion.

“We have to keep using these moments as learning moments. We have to be able to show them where the errors were, things that seem so small but become such big factors in the game. We have to stay positive and know that we are going to grow from this and get better.”

The first half was much like the last time the ‘Dogs and Miners played – neither team was missing many shots. LA Tech shot 50 percent from the field and hit seven threes. UTEP was even better at 61 percent shooting, giving them a narrow 41-39 halftime edge.

It was at the 9:41 mark in the second stanza when LA Tech retook the lead at 57-56 on a fast-break dunk by Exavian Christon. It was the first time ahead for the Bulldogs since 5:35 left in the first stanza. UTEP would get the advantage back on back-to-back three-pointers by Trey Wade off the bench.

Down two with 7:56 to go, LA Tech had its best stretch of the game. They held the Miners scoreless for almost five minutes, getting two free throws from Amorie Archibald, an old-fashioned three-point play by Oliver Powell on a slam dunk and a driving layup by Anthony Duruji to go up 69-64.

The execution from then on though was not good enough to get the second road victory of the season. Despite the loss, LA Tech remained in eighth place in the league standings after all of the Thursday games.

The Bulldogs ended up shooting 43 percent from the field (22-51) and 40 percent from beyond the arc (10-25). It marked a program-record fifth straight game the team has made double-digit threes.

Four players finished in double figures, led by the freshman Duruji who had 15. Jacobi Boykins added 13 with three threes while Christon registered 11 and Derric Jean added 10.

The Miners finished 29-of-55 from the field for 53 percent and 6-of-14 from three for 43 percent. Omega Harris led all scorers with 21 points.

LA Tech returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 24 when they take on UTSA in San Antonio. Tipoff is set for 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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