Techsters home, Dogs travel For pivotal league twinbills

Louisiana Tech’s Conference USA basketball schedules feature pivotal battles against North Texas this weekend, with the Lady Techsters at home tonight and Saturday afternoon.

The first game of two in the Thomas Assembly Center is Friday night at 6:30 followed by Saturday afternoon at 4 in the TAC. Coach Brooke Stoehr’s Lady Techsters stand 10-6 overall and 5-5 in C-USA action, after splitting last week with USM, winning at home by 17 but falling by 13 last Saturday night in Hattiesburg.

UNT (8-3, 5-1) will play its first games in three weeks. The Mean Green has been idled the last two weekends because of Covid-19 issues encounted by Old Dominion and Rice.

The visitors are one of the league’s better offensive teams. The Techsters stand among C-USA’s best defensive squads.

The Bulldogs (14-5, 7-3) can close on North Texas (9-5, 5-1) in the C-USA standings. LA Tech is fourth overall in the conference, third in the West Division behind UAB (14-2, 7-1) and UNT – its next two opponents.

Tonight, the Bulldogs and Mean Green collide at 7 in Denton, Texas, alongside I-35. They play again Saturday at 1 in UNT’s Super Pit, where UNT is 7-0 this season.

North Texas features the reigning C-USA Player of the Year, point guard Javion Hamlet, and are a stout defensive squad, said Tech coach Eric Konkol, whose teams has won six of its last seven conference contests.

Tech is in a stretch of five road games in six outings, but won 76-63 last Thursday at USM and prevailed 65-62 last Saturday over the Golden Eagles in Ruston.

Bulldogs forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. was voted the C-USA Freshman of the Week after averaging 12.0 points and shooting 85 percent from the floor in Tech’s two triumphs last week.

BASEBALL: As the Feb. 19 season-opener against Notre Dame in Baton Rouge approaches, Tech senior outfielder Parker Bates continues to find the spotlight. He was named D1Baseball’s Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year this week, after earning the same distinction last month from Collegiate Baseball.

Bates hit a team-best .422 in the shortened 2020 season and led C-USA in hits (27), RBI (28), home runs (8) and slugging percentage (.891).

D1Baseball listed Bates as its No. 18 prospect out of C-USA for the 2021 MLB Draft. The Tyler, Texas product was a third-team Preseason All-America on Collegiate Baseball’s list in January.

SOCCER: Following a hard-fought 2-1 homefield loss Wednesday to Northwestern State, the Lady Techsters begin a string of seven straight contests on the road. Sunday, Tech (2-2) visits Texas Woman’s University for a 1 p.m. match.

Sophie Fijneman scored to narrow the Lady Demons’ 2-0 lead in the first half Wednesday at the Ruston Sports Complex. The teams battled to a shutout after halftime.

“We had a bad first half,” said Tech coach Kevin Sherry. “Proud of the fight the team put in, but sometimes you have to take one on the chin. We learned many lessons. Credit to NSU who took advantage of our mistakes.”

FOOTBALL: Longtime NFL coach Dave DeGuglielmo is the Bulldogs’ new offensive line coach. He has 29 years of coaching, 16 in the NFL. Last fall he was the New York Giants OL coach, after working for Miami in 2019 and 2017, sandwiched around Indianapolis in 2018. He also worked for San Diego, New England and the New York Jets in the past decade.

DeGuglielmo worked alongside Tech head coach Skip Holtz at South Carolina under Lou Holtz, Skip’s famous father, from 1999-2003, and worked for the younger Holtz at U-Conn in 1997-98.

A native New Englander, he played for Boston University’s Terriers.

Photo:  Darrell James

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