Junior dominates; Dogs fall

They call him Junior, but on Saturday, he had a senior-sized game.

Kenneth Lofton, Jr, scored a career-high 36 points, grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds and added four assists for Louisiana Tech, but the Bulldogs fell 90-81 to North Carolina State Saturday afternoon at PNC Arena.

“There are some times you can do everything right, and the guy still makes a shot,” said Tech head coach Eric Konkol. ” We forced a number of mid-range jump shots.  That is what we really wanted to do and NC State made a lot of contested big ones.  On the flipside, I thought we gave them some early looks that made them comfortable.  And we did not take care of the basketball well enough.  We needed to keep the turnover margin closer.”

 Junior was flat-out unstoppable against the ACC opponent, going for a career-high 36 points and a career-high 18 rebounds as well as a team-high four assists.  The power forward did a bunch of his damage in the second half, recording 23 points and 12 boards in the stanza.

“Junior was dominant by the basket,” said Konkol. “They gave him a lot of one-on-one coverage and he was able to take advantage of it.” 

It was the start of the game that doomed LA Tech (4-2) though as too many turnovers helped NC State jump out to an early lead.  It was Jericole Hellems (finished with 31 points) putting up big numbers for the Wolfpack, sinking four three-pointers to guide the home team to a 30-15 lead with 9:30 to go in the first half.

The Bulldogs clawed back, getting to within four at 35-31 after one of Junior’s 14 made fields with 2:46 to go before the break. However, the Wolfpack did what they did all day and that was hit tough, timely shots as soon as the ‘Dogs were close to tying or taking the lead.

NC State (5-1) held a 41-33 halftime edge and extended it to 12 early in the second stanza.  LA Tech got it to within six points on three different occasions, but could never get over the hump as NC State hit 11 three-pointers (came in averaging just six made threes a game).

Kaleb Stewart was the only other Bulldog in double-figures as the true freshman scored a career-high 10 points. 

Tech hosts Texas Southern Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.


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