Comeback Falls Short for Bulldogs versus Golden Eagles
March 3, 2018
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Down by as much as 24 points in the second half, Louisiana Tech pulled it to within two but could never gain the lead as the Bulldogs lost 72-64 to the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale inside Reed Green Coliseum.
It was a tough 20 minutes for LA Tech (16-15, 7-11 C-USA) in the first half, scoring a season-low 17 points and trailing by 23 points at intermission.
Freshman point guard Amorie Archibald then put the team in his shoulders. Despite having the flu earlier in the week, he poured in 17 of his career-tying 21 points in the second stanza. Included in that were two late three-pointers that got LA Tech to within two.
However, Southern Miss (14-17, 7-11 C-USA) was able to make its free throws down the stretch and hit a big three-pointer of its own to end the ‘Dogs eight-game winning streak in the series.
“I thought we started to play really hard and with more fire,” head coach Eric Konkol said of the second half. “We came out in the game slow and lethargic and Southern Miss was able to capitalize on that. I did see fight in our team in the last 14 minutes. When we play defense like that, it turns into great offense.
“I told the team that effort has to be a given. I know we are going through a rough stretch right now, but we have to know that effort has to be a constant. That is life. We have execution that we need to work on, things that we need to do, but we need to be fired up and ready to play from the start.”
Junior forward Jy’lan Washington pulled the Bulldogs to within two at 15-13 with 10:03 to go. For the next 10 minutes of action, it was a big struggle for LA Tech on offense and on defense.
The ‘Dogs made just two of their next 14 field goals. They also made just one of 15 three-pointers for the entire half. On the other side, USM connected on 16 made field goals while making six triples to give them a 40-17 halftime advantage.
LA Tech quickly came out of the locker room and sliced the deficit down to 16 in the first two-plus minutes thanks to a three from the wing by freshman forward Anthony Duruji and back-to-back and-ones from sophomore forward Oliver Powell and Archibald.
The Golden Eagles stymied that run, going on a 10-2 run to give themselves their largest lead of the game at 52-28 with 14:25 to play.
The Bulldogs then chipped away, and chipped away, and chipped away. Down 61-46, they erupted for a 13-0 run that was capped by a three from Archibald to cut it to within two with exactly three minutes remaining.
After a layup and made free throw by Tyree Griffin gave USM a five-point edge, Archibald again came up big with another triple to get the Bulldogs to within two yet again at 64-62.
“We challenged Amorie at halftime to be more aggressive,” Konkol said. “He lost weight due to having flu earlier in the week, missing a couple of practices. He really came into his own and got really aggressive in getting to the basket.”
With one minute left to go and down three, LA Tech had a chance to tie it with a Jacobi Boykins three-pointer that was on line but short. USM countered with a three-pointer of its own that took the wind out of the ‘Dogs comeback effort.
After scoring just 17 points in the first half, the Bulldogs scored 47 in the second half. They finished shooting 22-of-59 from the field for 37 percent and 7-of-30 from beyond the arc for 23 percent.
Archibald also finished with a game-high and career-tying seven rebounds to go along with four assists. Boykins was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 14, including three triples to give him 93 for the season.
Southern Miss shot 52 percent from the field (25-48) and 42 percent from three (8-19). They had three players score double-digit points, led by Cortez Edwards who had 21 on 8-of-10 shooting.
LA Tech will now await the rest of the league games to finish to determine its opponent and tip time in the first round of the C-USA Tournament on Wednesday in Frisco, Texas at The Star.
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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