FRISCO, Texas – The mantra “Tougher Together” was on display late Thursday night for Louisiana Tech.
The Bulldogs were without starting point guard and C-USA All-Defensive Team member Cobe Williams, out with a broken finger. C-USA Freshman of the Year Kenneth Lofton, Jr. fouled out for just the second time this season.
And LA Tech was down three with a little over three minutes to go, but finished the game on an 11-2 run to take the 75-69 victory over Florida Atlantic.
The ‘Dogs advance to the C-USA Tournament semifinals where they will face North Texas at 2 p.m. today on CBS Sports Network. The survivor reaches the championship game Saturday at 8, also on CBS Sports Network.
“It was a tough win against a tough team,” said coach Eric Konkol. “Florida Atlantic is well coached and they rebound at a very high rate. We gave up 12 offensive rebounds, which is took many, but we found just enough on the other end to be able to come away with a very gritty win.
“This was our first game without Cobe this season,” said Konkol. “We had to really try to figure this out as we were going along. I give a lot of credit to our guys. We found a way. It was not pretty, but the guys found a way.”
Lofton, Jr. fouled out with 4:06 to go after picking up his fourth foul, plus a technical. FAU (13-10) made three free throws as a result to break the ninth tie of the game.
All-Conference USA selection Isaiah Crawford was keeping LA Tech (21-6) in the game prior to that, scoring six straight points.
The forward continued to put the squad on his back the rest of the way. He knocked down a jumper and then converted an old-fashioned three-point play to give the ‘Dogs a 69-67 advantage.
After the Owls’ Karlis Silins tied things up for a 10th time at 69-69 with 2:14 left, the Bulldogs went into a rare zone on defense that forced four straight empty attempts for FAU. On the offensive end, Tech sank six straight critical free throws – four by Crawford and two by Exavian Christon – to seal the victory.
Crawford ended up scoring 15 of the team’s final 17 points of the game, ultimately finishing with a team-high 21 to go along with nine rebounds.
“Isaiah was huge,” said Konkol. “He was a monster in the second half. We were trying to get him touches, trying to put him in positions where he could use his size and strength. And when he got fouled, he made the free throws down the stretch.”
Both teams put on a shooting clinic in the first half, draining seven three-pointers apiece. LA Tech built its largest lead at 27-18 after a three by Xaiver Armstead and back-to-back triples by Amorie Archibald.
JaColby Pemberton had nine of his 13 points in the first half. The senior also tied Crawford with a team-high nine rebounds. Ledoux recorded 14 points while Archibald ended with 13.
Photo of Isaiah Crawford – photo credit Jordan Freeman, Conference USA