RUSTON – Senior Erik McCree has been the anchor for Louisiana Tech all season.
However, on Thursday night there was a youth movement inside the Thomas Assembly Center as the freshman duo of DaQuan Bracey and Jalen Harris combined for 35 points to help the Bulldogs overpower Florida Atlantic by a final score of 95-69.
Bracey registered his first career double-double with 14 points, a career-high 12 assists and a career-high four steals while Harris was very efficient from the field with a game-high 21 points off the bench, including a tip-in dunk that got the crowd of 3,012 on their feet.
“I think they are just getting better and better,” head coach Eric Konkol said about his two freshmen. “I think they are growing. I am really happy for Jalen Harris. He has missed six games and at two different times. He is really starting to find his rhythm. He is getting comfortable and making good reads and he is defending better. DaQuan is really our little general. He is finding seams, looking to score but he is popping it off to guys when they are open. Those guys are growing in front of us.”
LA Tech (19-8, 11-3 C-USA) did not come out of the gates very strong though, especially on defense. Florida Atlantic (8-16, 4-9 C-USA) made 12 of its first 23 field goal attempts, including four three-pointers, to grab a 28-25 lead with 6:34 to play in the first stanza.
The intensity level started to pick from there. A couple of forced turnovers out of the 1-3-1 zone helped spark a 12-0 run which included back-to-back-to-back slams, one apiece from Harris, Joniah White and Jacobi Boykins.
Later it was Harris who beat the buzzer with a three-pointer from long range to give the Bulldogs a 45-35 advantage at intermission.
There was no stopping LA Tech after that. The ‘Dogs dominated the paint to the tune of 52 paint points and a season-high eight dunks.
The lead peaked at 92-60 when White threw down his fourth slam of the game with 3:12 remaining. The sophomore finished one rebound shy of a double-double himself, registering a career-high 10 points and nine boards.
After scoring just 10 combined points in the last two games, Boykins was his normal self with 19 points on offense and a career-tying five steals on defense.
Then there was McCree as the fifth Bulldog in double figures. The forward took a season-low five shot attempts but still finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
“I think that we have balance,” Konkol said. “To be able to get five guys in double figures is huge for us. Erik is going to get a lot of attention and people look to defend him different ways. I thought he played a very clean and unselfish ball game. I thought he made really good reads, good passes. I thought he was very patient and I think he realized that the other guys have opportunities here. He is a competitor and he just wants what is best for Louisiana Tech and that showed tonight.”
The team ended up shooting 34-of-60 from the field for 57 percent and 7-of-13 from three-point range for 54 percent. They also sank 20 free throws.
FAU shot 43 percent from the field (29-67) and 26 percent from behind the arc (6-23). Gerdarius Troutman and Jailyn Ingram were two Owls in double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
LA Tech stays home to take on FIU on Saturday, Feb. 18. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. in the TAC.
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