Bulldogs 74, WKU 73
RUSTON – Louisiana Tech pulled off its 17th straight home game by overcoming a 17-point deficit to defeat WKU, 74-73, on New Year’s Day Saturday inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.
“We talk about TAC magic and we used every bit of it,” said Tech head coach Eric Konkol. “All the credit goes to our guys. We talk all the time about battling adversity and this was a great example of it.”
Due to a sluggish first half that saw LA Tech (11-3, 2-0 C-USA) shoot just 18 percent from the field and an early second-half burst by WKU (8-6, 0-1 C-USA), the Bulldogs found themselves down 47-30 with 15:52 to go.
Shots finally started to fall for the ‘Dogs against a tough zone defense as Keaston Willis, Amorie Archibald and Exavian Christon combined to hit four triples in the span of three-plus minutes to force a Hilltoppers timeout, down just seven with 12:12 to play.
LA Tech got the deficit to within four points on a couple of occasions, but WKU – and in particular Camron Justice who knocked down five three-pointers – kept answering back.
Trailing 72-66 with 43 seconds remaining, Cobe Williams nailed a three from the corner to slice the deficit down to three. Then with 16 ticks on clock, the point guard buried a deep three from the wing to tie things up at 72-all.
Justice connected on one of two free throw attempts to put the Hilltoppers back in front by one, but Kenneth Lofton, Jr. countered with two pressure free throws with five seconds to go. His 22nd point of the game ended up being the game-winner as WKU missed on a shot at the buzzer.
“Give a lot of credit to Western Kentucky and how they played,” said Konkol. “They are a very good team. We just found a way. We found ways to attack their zone, Junior got creative inside and we finally got going from three. The margins are so small, especially in this league.”
LA Tech led for a total of 26 seconds the entire game and ended up scoring 53 points in the second half after only scoring 21 in the first stanza to be down 31-21 at the midway point.
Junior finished with his seventh double-double of the season with 22 points and 11 rebounds. C. Williams (18), Archibald (17) and Willis (11) also reached double figures in scoring.
WKU 64, Lady Techsters 50
BOWLING GREEN, Kentucky – In another defensive-minded Conference USA match-up, the Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team fell short Saturday afternoon in a 64-50 loss to Western Kentucky inside the E.A. Diddler Arena.
The Lady Techsters fall to 8-5 on the year and 0-2 in conference play, while Western Kentucky improves to 9-4 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
“The live ball turnovers in the first half really hurt us,” said Brooke Stoehr. “They led to transition points and those are difficult to defend. Proud of the effort of the group on the floor that got it to one in the fourth quarter. We had a chance and gave up a transition bucket after a made layup on our end.”
Out and running early, the Lady Techsters surged out in front on a jumper from sophomore Anna Larr Roberson, a layup and a pair of free throws by Junior Keiunna Walker and a layup by freshman Amaya Brannon to take an 8-2 lead just two minutes into the game.
Western Kentucky answered with a 12-0 burst of their own to take their first lead of the afternoon at 14-8 with 2:04 left in the opening frame. The Lady Toppers went on to take a 17-11 lead into the second period.
Three straight turnovers by the Lady Techsters to start the second stanza, helped the Lady Toppers extend their lead out to 23-11 with 8:12 remaining in the first half. Another layup by Roberson and a corner three by sophomore Lotte Sant cut the deficit down to 23-16 with 6:46 left in the second quarter.
A pair of layups by freshman Robyn Lee cut Western Kentucky’s lead down to 28-22 but the Lady Toppers were able to push their lead back out to double-figures with a pair of free throws and a layup.
Trailing by ten with five second remaining in the half Lotte Sant was hacked on a three, cutting the deficit down to 25-32 at the break.
Western Kentucky extended their lead out to as much as 13 at 46-33 as the Lady Techsters when cold shooting. Tech shot just 2-of-11 from the field by only trailed 46-35 entering the fourth quarter.
Trailing by 11 with ten minutes to play, the Lady Techsters sparked a 10-0 run to cut the deficit down to one at 46-45 with 6:39 remaining in the game. Roberson, Walker and freshman Silvia Nativi all contributed to the run, keeping Tech in striking distance.
The Lady Toppers responded with a trio of threes and a layup to push their lead back out to double-figures at 57-47 with 4:43 left in the game. A pair of layups and another three by Western Kentucky lifted the Lady Toppers to a 64-50 win.
“We have to continue to grow and find a way to manufacture some points from our defense,” said Stoehr. “We didn’t do that very well this week and have to get back to that especially when we’re on the road. We had a tough week. There is a lot of basketball left to be played. We have to get back to work this week and take care of our home court.”
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