Big-Shot Jean Hits Game-Winner, Bulldogs Win Cancun Challenge Title

Nov. 22, 2017

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CANCUN, Mexico – Louisiana Tech fans remember junior Derric Jean hitting the game-winning buzzer beater from half-court in 2016.

They will also remember the shot from Wednesday night when he hit the game-winner from three to help the Bulldogs pull off a thrilling 63-61 victory over Evansville to claim the 2017 Riviera Division Cancun Challenge championship at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

LA Tech (5-0) found itself down by seven at 58-51, its largest deficit of the game, with less than five minutes to go. The Bulldogs then went on a 9-1 run, capped off by a huge three-pointer by sophomore Jalen Harris to go up by two with 1:43 to play.

A foul called on sophomore DaQuan Bracey 30 feet from the basket on a hand-check call with 12.7 seconds remaining allowed Evansville (5-1) to hit two free throws from the foul line to give them the one-point edge.

After a timeout was called by head coach Eric Konkol, Bracey drove to the basket but kicked it out to Harris who missed the rim on the three-point attempt.

From out of nowhere, senior Jacobi Boykins came flying in to grab the rebound and saved it from going out-of-bounds. He kicked it to Jean in mid-air who hit nothing but net from the wing with 0.7 seconds to ultimately win the game.

“I am so proud of our players,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “We faced a lot of adversity tonight. A lot of things were not going our way. We were down seven with five minutes to go against a very, very good team, but we really came together and supported each other, making some really key plays. It says a whole lot about these guys. I am very proud of them.

“We had to keep mixing it up. Evansville is such a rhythm team. We played pretty much every defense that we have. We talk all the time about being the team that needs to stay in the game even if our shots are not falling. The guys really executed on the defensive end. This was an opportunity to keep growing.”

After making 11 three-pointers against George Mason in the first game of the tournament, the Bulldogs made only five against Evansville. The last two were huge though from Harris and Jean.

LA Tech was trailing, 19-14, midway through the first half but then went on an 8-0 run which was highlighted by slam dunks by Jean and Boykins.

Evansville regained the lead at 27-24, but the Bulldogs made another run thanks to their defense. After going into their 1-3-1 zone, they did not allow a Purple Aces field goal in the final four minutes of the first half and took a 31-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.

LA Tech ended up shooting 23-of-61 from the field for 38 percent and just 5-of-23 from three-point range for 22 percent. Bracey led the way with a game-high 17 points to go along with five assists, five rebounds and three steals.

Jean, an All-Tournament selection, was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 13 points. He also snatched four steals. Despite making just one three-pointer, Boykins (Tournament MVP) was a force on the defensive end with a career-high 12 rebounds and helping limit the Purple Aces’ key player Ryan Taylor to just 11 points.

“They are our upperclassmen and that is so important,” Konkol said. “They are leading this team and doing the little things. It is such a great example to our younger guys and how we want to keep growing as a team. This is something they and the rest of the team will remember forever.”

Evansville went 24-of-52 (46 percent) from the field and 6-of-14 (43 percent) from deep. They had three players in double figures, led by Dru Smith who posted 12 points.

LA Tech returns to action on Nov. 29 at SEC foe Alabama. 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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