Bulldogs out-tough UTEP; Techsters fall short

Quandre Bullock (3) led the Bulldogs to a 60-58 win over UTEP Saturday at the TAC. (Courtesy Photo)


Courtesy of LA Tech Athletics Communications

Bulldogs 60, UTEP 58 (Ruston)

Louisiana Tech picked up its 10th win of the season on Saturday afternoon, getting one last defensive stop in the closing seconds to pull out a 60-58 victory over UTEP inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

“We got out-toughed when we went to UTEP,” said Tech head coach Talvin Hester who saw his team fall 60-55 in El Paso on Dec. 17. “I thought we did a really good job of being touch and physical today. Our defensive plan was good enough. Offensively, we were good in the first half. I thought the ball stopped moving in the second half, we stopped sharing the basketball. That is a well-coached team we played.”

LA Tech (10-6, 3-2 C-USA) had the lead for almost 35 minutes, but was never able to stretch it out. On three different occasions, the Bulldogs made it a 10-point advantage with the last time coming at 51-41 with 8:20 remaining.

Their previous 10-point edge, 37-27 at halftime, quickly dwindled in the early parts of the second stanza. It was a stretch that saw UTEP (8-7, 1-3 C-USA) go on a 9-0 run as the ‘Dogs missed their first five shot attempts and committed four turnovers.

The Miners ultimately tied things up at 40-40 after a made layup by Ze’rik Onyema. However, the home team found some offensive magic in Isaiah Crawford who made seven points during LA Tech’s 11-1 run to push the lead back out to double-digits.

UTEP chipped away again though, cutting the deficit down to one on three occasions in the final minutes. The first time getting to within one point, Keaston Willis lost his defender and drained a three-pointer from the wing (the only one of the second half for LA Tech) to make it a 57-53 score.

Those three points were matched by three made free throws from the Miners to make it a one-point game again. The two squads then traded layups, Quandre Bullock scoring for the Bulldogs and Calvin Solomon scoring for the Miners.

Being forced the foul with eight seconds left, Terran Williams stepped to the free throw line missing the first, but making the second to take it to a 60-58 lead. UTEP went for the win as Tae Hardy took a contested three-point shot that was off the mark.

“We have been in this situation quite a bit [with these close games],” said Hester, who has seen his team play four C-USA games that have come down to the final 10 seconds  “We have done a lot of film more and have needed to be better in late-game situations. We had to be better down the stretch. Our looked at our guys in the eyes with eight seconds left and I said, ‘No lazy basketball right now. You have give all you got for eight seconds.’ That is what we did.”

Four Bulldogs reached double-digit points, led by Cobe Williams who had a game-high 17 points. Bullocks 12 points tied his career high while Keaston Willis and Dravon Mangum each netted 10.

It was a tale of two halves offensively for both teams as each shot over 50 percent in the first half, but less than 40 percent in the second half.

Three Miners finished in double figures with Shamar Givance leading the way with 11.

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UTEP 72, Lady Techsters 66 (El Paso)

Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team battled back from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit in El Paso Saturday afternoon, but fell to UTEP 72-66 in a game that featured alternating runs from both squads.

Three Techsters reached double figures, led by Keiunna Walker, who had 24 points, three assists, and two steals, followed by Salma Bates and Amaya Brannon, who had 14 and 13, respectively. Brannon chipped in five rebounds, while Bates added four assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

“I think our team showed up ready to play and competed hard, but our execution in the third quarter was not good. It eventually cost us, allowing them to string together stops that led to them scoring,” said Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr. “You have to give UTEP credit. They shot it very well today. We shot it well enough to win today and did enough scoring, but the lack of communication in some spots defensively gave them too many chances.”

LA Tech (9-6, 2-3 C-USA) took the early initiative in the first stanza after a 7-7 start with an 8-0 run to pull ahead 15-7, but UTEP (10-3, 3-1 C-USA) responded with a 9-2 run of their own, courtesy of three Tech turnovers. Walker finished the quarter with four straight free throws to give Tech a 21-16 to end the quarter. 

Walker continued with a three to start the second quarter and extended Tech’s lead to eight, but the Miners strung runs together of 9-1 and 9-2 over the next six minutes to grab a 32-28 lead with 3:18 left in the half. UTEP ended the half up three, 36-33.

It was the Techsters’ turn to start the third as they regained the lead with a 6-0 start (39-36) over the first two minutes, but Tech would struggle to score the remainder of the period, with Walker spending most of the quarter on the bench with three fouls. UTEP would finish the period 17-5 for a nine-point cushion after three (53-44).

After finding themselves down 12 early in the fourth quarter, Tech was able to battle back off runs of 9-3 and 8-0 to cut the Miner’s lead to three with two minutes remaining. 

After two buckets from the Miner’s, Gabbie Green’s three and a layup from Walker got Tech within two with 10 seconds remaining, but UTEP’s Elina Arike hit two free throws to stop Tech short of completing the fourth quarter comeback.  

Tech shot it well again, hitting 53 percent of their looks, going 22-41 from the field including tying a season-high with nine threes. Tech also hit 13-16 (.813) from the line. 

UTEP would not be out-done, hitting 10 three-pointers (10-21) and connecting 16-18 free throws (.889) while shooting 41.8 percent for the contest (23-55).


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