South Carolina Pulls Away Late to Defeat LA Tech
Nov. 11, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Louisiana Tech hung around all night against SEC foe South Carolina in a hostile environment and had a couple of chances at the rim to cut the deficit to four with three minutes to go.
However, the Gamecocks went on a 7-0 run to pull away with an 85-76 win over the Bulldogs in the 2016-17 regular season opener for both teams on Friday night inside Colonial Life Arena.
LA Tech (0-1) only had one lead and that was at the very beginning of the game when redshirt senior Erik McCree made one of two from the free throw line. The Bulldogs found themselves down 11 at halftime and down as much as 15 early in the second half.
Despite chipping away multiple times to get to within two possessions, the team could not get over the hump with South Carolina (1-0) either getting to the free throw line or hitting a three-pointer to protect its lead.
“I thought that we kept competing and that is what we want to be about,” head coach Eric Konkol said post-game. “Never stop, just be relentless. I thought we did that. We got better and better as the game went on. We were close, two possessions away, and we needed a stop and another key score to put some pressure on them. I am proud of the way the guys stuck together in this environment.”
The story of the first half was LA Tech’s struggles shooting the basketball. For the first 20 minutes of action, they were 0-of-7 from beyond the arc whereas Carolina hit on six three-pointers.
The game could have gotten out of hand when the Gamecocks opened the second stanza on a 6-2 mini-run to grab its largest lead of the game at 48-33 with 17:54 left to play, but that was not the case.
Despite foul trouble across the board, the ‘Dogs turned it around by finding a good shooting rhythm. Jacobi Boykins and Qiydar Davis hit back-to-back threes. Later on it was Derric Jean connecting from downtown and then his fellow point guard teammate DaQuan Bracey hitting one from the corner while getting fouled.
That pulled LA Tech to within four at 65-61 with 7:57 to go, but the Gamecocks answered like they did all night with five free throws and a three-pointer of their own to protect their home lead.
“This is a competitive group,” Konkol said. “They have a lot of resolve. The guys came in here expecting to win. That says a lot about them as people and that is something we want to keep getting better so that next time we can get that key stop and that key score.
“Our guys were ready to play. They came in here focused on what they had to do. We are going to be relying on Derric and DaQuan a lot this season at point guard. I thought Jalen Harris did some nice things as well. Those guys had nice moments together with a sophomore and two freshmen on the court. We are really excited where they can grow.”
Jean finished the night with a career-high 18 points. Behind him was Boykins who had 14, all coming in the second half. Bracey and Omar Sherman were the other two Bulldogs in double-figures with 12 apiece.
The team shot 44 percent from the field (24-55) and 35 percent from three-point range (7-20). On defense, they forced 15 turnovers and had 11 steals. A stat killer though was being called for 28 fouls.
South Carolina shot 30-of-57 for 53 percent and connected on half of its total three-pointers (9-of-18). They had three players score at least 17 points, led by Sindarius Thornwell who had 18.
Next up for LA Tech is its home opener on Wednesday, Nov. 16 versus Alabama State. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
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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