Short-handed Dogs down Southern

Keaston Willis (0) scored 16 points to help lead the Bulldogs to their 31st straight home non-conference win. (Photo by Kelsey Chanler)

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

A pair of standout scoring halves by Keaston Willis and Cobe Williams helped Louisiana Tech set a new program record by claiming its 31st straight non-conference victory inside the Thomas Assembly Center as the Bulldogs defeated Southern, 74-59, on Friday night. 

“We only turned it over 11 times, which was a big focus for us against their pressure,” said Tech head coach Talvin Hester. “We won the rebounding battle as well and we had more assists to turnovers. All of that is a good recipe for success. We had a “next man up” mentality again with Isaiah being out. Injuries are part of the game. We do not want to be strapped by one individual. We try to celebrate each other and play together.”

Willis scored all 16 of his points in the first half, draining shots from all over the floor.  Williams then came alive in the second half, tallying 15 of his game-high 21 points in the stanza. 

Most important though, LA Tech (6-2) was able to record its fifth straight win by taking care of the basketball.  The Bulldogs tied their season low with just 11 turnovers, a massive point of emphasis going up against a Southern (3-5) squad that came in ranked in the top 10 in the country in forcing TOs.

The Bulldogs were the first team to get some separation, breaking a 10-10 tie with 16:03 to go by going on 12-2 run that included nine straight points by Willis. 

The lead gradually grew throughout the first half as the defense allowed just 10 more points by the Jaguars, building a 37-20 advantage at halftime.

The lead maxed out after the opening bucket of the second half as Williams’ driving layup made it 39-20.  Southern slowly chipped away though, getting the deficit down to 10 at 53-43 with 8:01 to play. 

Coming out of a timeout, the ‘Dogs got a little breathing room by making a 7-0 run that included a pair of dunks by Quandre Bullock and Kenny Hunter

The Jags countered used the three-ball though to get back right back into it, trailing by single digits, 65-56, at the 3:19 mark, but Williams came up big by sinking a three-pointer of his own from the wing.  He also collected his fourth steal down the stretch and tacked on four more points to seal the win.

Dravon Mangum and Bullock were two other Bulldogs in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively, as the team shot 48.3 percent from the field (28-58) while making nine total threes.

“You do not have to be great as individuals all game, but we have to be great as a team all game,” said Hester. “Keaston was unbelievable in the first half. He could not miss. He got a little fatigued there, but then Cobe stepped up in the second half. We want to continue to have multiple guys step up like that.”

Southern was limited to 34.9 percent shooting from the field (22-63) and 25.0 percent from beyond the arc (5-20).  The Jaguars were led in scoring by Brion Whitley who had 16 points.

Tech won despite the absence of David Green and Isiaah Crawford.

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