Bulldogs Defeat Patriots, Advance to Cancun Challenge Championship
Nov. 21, 2017
CANCUN, Mexico – Louisiana Tech head coach Eric Konkol picked up win No. 50 and did so against one of his former squads as the Bulldogs defeated George Mason, 77-64, to advance to the championship game of the 10th annual Cancun Challenge on Tuesday night in Mexico.
It was a total team effort for LA Tech (4-0) who had four players in double figures, led by senior Jacobi Boykins with 18 points and junior Derric Jean coming off the bench to provide a season-high 17 points.
With the victory, the Bulldogs will face the winner of Fresno State and Evansville on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya and will be nationally-televised on the CBS Sports Network.
“I really thought everybody contributed, not just on the floor but with the spirit and emotion on the bench,” said Konkol who became the fastest head coach to 50 wins in program history. “I really like what I have seen from the team and how they are coming together, especially in moments like this. I thought we played a very unselfish style.”
George Mason had a very early 4-3 lead. That would be the last lead the Patriots had as the Bulldogs were scoring hot (much like the Cancun weather) from three-point range.
Sophomore Jalen Harris and Jean hit back-to-back triples to give LA Tech an 11-5 advantage in the early going. After pushing the lead up to double-digits at 11, the Patriots got the deficit back down to six.
However, Jean connected on another three and was followed by junior Jy’lan Washington with a corner three. Boykins, who was forced to leave the game just three minutes in due to two fouls, came back in and joined in on the three-point action.
He hit one to cap a 10-0 run for LA Tech, giving them a 35-19 advantage. Back-to-back lay-ins by sophomore DaQuan Bracey at the end of the half gave the ‘Dogs a 42-24 advantage at intermission.
The 15-minute break did not cool down Boykins though. The sharp shooter hit two more triples (of his five total) on consecutive offensive trips to raise the lead to 52-26.
As great as the shooting was for LA Tech, the defense was just as good. For almost a 10-minute span that carried over into the second stanza, George Mason had made zero field goals.
The Patriots eventually got going on offense though, using an 11-0 to get back into the game. They would get as close as 11 points on a few different occasions, but LA Tech hit some free throws down the stretch and got a leak-out dunk by Jean to seal it.
“I can’t say enough about Derric’s character and attitude,” Konkol said. “I know it is not easy coming off the bench after starting. He has played such a major role in this program from the moment he came on campus. He is all about the team and all about how he can help and he is helping us in a big, big way.”
LA Tech ended up shooting 27-of-57 from the field (47 percent) and 11-of-24 from deep (46 percent). Harris and Bracey added 10 points apiece while Washington pulled down a career-high eight boards.
George Mason shot only 33 percent from the field (18-of-54) and 16 percent from three-point range (4-of-25), doing most of its damage from the foul line with 24 made free throws. They had three players in double figures, led by Goanar Mar who had 17.
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