Bulldogs Grind Out 68-62 Win, Advance to Quarterfinals
March 8, 2018
FRISCO, Texas – When Louisiana Tech defends at a high level, the numbers say they almost always win.
The Bulldogs were able to end a four-game losing streak and keep their season alive at the same time by playing gritty defense, grinding out a 68-62 victory over North Texas late Wednesday night to advance to the C-USA Tournament Quarterfinals at The Star.
LA Tech (17-15), playing as the lower seed for the first time in a league tourney game since 2012, will try to pull off another upset on Thursday night when they take on No. 2 seed Old Dominion at 8:30 p.m. CT in a game that will be broadcast on Twitter via Stadium.
“We knew were going to face an opponent in North Texas that plays really, really hard,” head coach Eric Konkol said during the post-game press conference. “They are very physical on the boards. We challenged the guys to really compete in those areas. They have some really good scorers and we have been searching for some consistency on defense. Jacobi helped lead the charge on that.
“I was really happy with the way we competed tonight. We were able to get enough stops and just enough baskets that were few and far between most of the night. I thought our guys had a gritty performance and that really led to the outcome tonight.”
North Texas (15-17) was the team that came on hot on offense, sinking seven of its first 13 field goals (three of which were three-pointers – two by Roosevelt Smart and one by DJ Draper) to go up 17-10 with 11:44 to play in the first half.
The ‘Dogs countered by making four of their next five field goals, including a tough driving layup by sophomore guard DaQuan Bracey, to tie things up at 18 apiece with a little over seven minutes to go until halftime.
The momentum really seemed to shift when the Mean Green’s Draper was called for a flagrant one foul, resulting in two made free throws by junior guard Derric Jean to tie things up yet again at 22-22.
Jean took advantage of the Bulldogs getting the ball back as he drove to the basket (something the team did a lot of in the first stanza since they made only two of 10 threes) for the lay-in to give LA Tech its first lead of the contest at the 2:46 mark.
They would never trail again. But North Texas never went away.
The Bulldogs made their last five field goal attempts before halftime to take a slim 31-27 advantage into the locker room. They extended that to seven straight as senior guard Jacobi Boykins drained his first triple of the game – wide open from the top of the arc – and sophomore forward Oliver Powell got his hook shot to fall to quickly up the lead to 35-28.
The Mean Green, with a healthy crowd on hand as the “home team,” knotted things up for a third time at 39-all on a driving layup by Ryan Woolridge (something he is quite good at).
A Bracey layup of his own and a second triple from Boykins stretched the lead back up to five.
North Texas got it back down to a one-possession game again at 50-48 with six minutes and change to go. Then quite possibly the biggest shot of the night came from Jean who drained a three-pointer from the wing to beat the shock clock.
His fellow starting guard Amorie Archibald hit a similar big shot as the ball went from opposite corner to corner to around the horn for three, giving the Bulldogs their largest lead of the game at 58-50 with 1:47 left.
Despite North Texas making six of its next seven field goals, LA Tech countered by making 10 free throws (out of 12 attempts) at the charity stripe the rest of the way to seal their fifth straight win over North Texas.
Four of those free throws came from Boykins who went a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line, attributing to his game-high 21 points. Jean was the other Bulldog in double figures with 17, his highest point total in two months.
LA Tech finished 21-of-45 shooting for 47 percent and 6-of-18 from beyond the arc for 33 percent. They connected on 20-of-26 free throws.
North Texas was limited to 43 percent shooting (24-56) and, more importantly, 29 percent from three (4-14). Woolridge and Smart paced the Mean Green with 20 points apiece.
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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