Bulldogs Advance to Semifinals with 69-57 Win over Blazers
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The Louisiana Tech men’s basketball was locked in from the tip in the C-USA Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night against UAB.
The Bulldogs had four players score in double figures and led wire-to-wire for the convincing 69-57 victory over the Blazers inside Legacy Arena.
With the victory, LA Tech (23-9) moves onto the semifinals for the third time in the last four years. They will face off against the winner of Marshall and Old Dominion on Friday at 2 p.m. in a matchup that will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “They were really locked in all week. I thought they executed the game plan very well. We knew we were going to get a very hard-nosed, tough opponent. I thought we really battled tonight and to outrebound UAB is a huge accomplishment for us.”
Second team All-CUSA selection Jacobi Boykins got things started with a corner three-pointer and it was all Bulldogs from there. The junior sharp shooter ended up hitting three three-pointers, bringing his season total to 88 which tied the program history for most in a single season. He finished with 14 points.
His fellow All-CUSA teammate Erik McCree was just as big in the game. The redshirt senior powered his way to his 13th double-double of the year, posting a game-high 20 points and 16 rebounds.
The third Bulldog in double figures was All-CUSA Freshman team member Jalen Harris who came off the bench to notch 17 points. It marked the seventh straight game the guard has scored double-digit points.
Lastly, it was junior forward Omar Sherman who was tallied 10 points.
LA Tech put on a defensive clinic in the first half, holding UAB (17-16) to their lowest single half total of the year. The lead was 31-18 in favor of the Bulldogs at intermission with the Blazers making just six field goals in the stanza.
“We just tried to be physical with them,” McCree said. “Coach stressed all week just to be physical with them. They are great players and we wanted to limit second chance opportunities.”
There was no let-up coming out of the locker room either for the ‘Dogs. They scored six straight points (three straight layups) to force a Blazer timeout. The visitors called yet another timeout two minutes later after Sherman connected on an alley-oop dunk and an 8-foot hook shot with the score, 41-20.
The Bulldogs knew the Blazers would have a run in them, especially with the Birmingham crowd behind them. Denzell Watts connected on back-to-back three-pointers to get the deficit down to 10 with 2:09 left to go.
The briefly got down to single digits for the first time in almost 26 minutes of action, but Harris stepped up to make two free throws. Then McCree followed that up with seven straight points to seal the win.
The Bulldogs ended up shooting 44 percent from the field (23-52) and 42 percent from behind the arc (5-12). They ended up outrebounding a big Blazer team, 46-35, and had 13 second chance points.
UAB was 22-of-64 from the field for 34 percent and 6-of-23 from three-point range for 26 percent. They had three players score 13 points – William Lee, Dirk Williams and Watts.
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