Dogs fall in OT on last second shot

Kenny Hunter scored a career-high 16 points in the overtime loss to SFA. (photo by Josh McDaniel)

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

RUSTON – It took an extra five minutes to decide the winner between Louisiana Tech and Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

It ended up being the Lumberjacks who prevailed as AJ Cajuste made the game-winning basket with 0.9 seconds left in an 80-79 decision.

LA Tech (6-4) and SFA (6-4) got its points in different ways all night. The Bulldogs were dominant in the paint, outscoring their opponent 54-28. It was needed as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country managed just a season-low four triples.

“Every possession matters,” said Tech head coach Talvin Hester. “All of the mistakes throughout the game accumulated to them winning by one. It was not just the last possession, it was a bunch of possessions throughout the game that we could have changed the outcome.”

Meanwhile, the ‘Jacks got much of their scoring from beyond the arc, draining 14 three-pointers. The 12th one came from Cajuste to give the visiting team a 68-66 advantage with 35 seconds remaining in regulation.

LA Tech turned it over on the next possession, but got one more crack at sending it to OT after SFA’s Nana Antwi-Boasiako missed the front end of a one-and-one. And tie it up they did as Cobe Williams dished out one of his career-high 11 assists to Kenny Hunter who made the layup to knot up the score at 68-all.

Cajuste attempted to end the game, but Williams came up with a block to force the extra frame.

The Lumberjacks got three-pointers No. 13 and 14 from Kyle Hayman to build a small 76-72 advantage with 1:29 to play in overtime.

“At the end of the day, you are going to give up something,” said Hester. “We turned them over 28 times and dominated points in the paint. Every team is going to do something to score. We kept them out of the paint and out of transition. People are going to score somehow and they did it with 14 threes.”

Meanwhile, Williams continued to will the team back in it, just as he did in the second half when LA Tech got down 59-51 after SFA went on a 17-2 run to erase the home team’s largest lead at 49-42.

The fourth-year guard made another dish to Hunter for the alley-oop slam and then converted an old-fashioned three-point play with four ticks on the clock to give the ‘Dogs an 80-79 lead. However, Cajuste had just enough time to take the ball the length of the floor and make the game-winning attempt.

Williams finished with his first career double-double, scoring a game-high 23 points to go along with his 11 dimes. The two-time C-USA All-Defensive Team selection also had a career-high five steals.

“It was always tough losing at home,” said Williams. “I was just playing hard, trying to do anything for my team to get a win. On defense, we have to keep working on our rotations. We have to break this game down, move on from it, and get ready for conference on Saturday.”

Hunter was sensational off the bench, posting a career-high 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting. The freshman Jordan Crawford was the third Bulldog in double figures with 13 points.

SFA had five players score double-digit points, led by Hayman who had 18.