Bench production fuels season-opening hoops win for Louisiana Tech over UT Arlington

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Bench Production Fuels Season-Opening Win for Bulldogs

RUSTON – JaColby Pemberton and Andrew Gordon were part of key bench production for Louisiana Tech as the Bulldogs hung on for a 76-71 victory over UT Arlington on Friday night in the season opener inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

The duo each registered new career-highs in scoring, combining for 33 points (bench scored 39) in the matchup that was part of the Louisiana Tech Classic presented by Hampton Inn of Ruston.

LA Tech (1-0) built as much as a 16-point advantage early in the second half, but UTA (0-2) got it to within one-possession numerous times in the stanza. The Bulldogs managed to keep the lead the entire period though, getting big buckets and key defensive stops down the stretch.

“When we originally scheduled this game, it was with a Nov. 10 start date in mind,” said head coach Eric Konkol. “We thought we were going to have a couple of scrimmages and a couple of games under our belt before we played a very good UTA team.

“Not having those opportunities to play anybody else, that was a negative for us. But, I thought our guys came out playing hard and fast. We just weren’t in sync, but once we got in sync, I thought we had really good moments. This felt like a conference game in February. It was physical, it was fast and it was hard played.”

The ‘Dogs put up just 11 points through the first 10 minutes of the game, but the team found their offensive rhythm and put up 27 points through the final 10 before halftime. The half ended with five straight points from Gordon off a dunk and three-point play to make it a 10-point halftime edge.

The lead grew to 16 after back-to-back three-pointers from Cobe Williams and Kalob Ledoux made it 48-32 in favor of LA Tech which forced a UTA timeout with 15:50 remaining in the contest.

The Mavericks countered with back-to-back three-pointers of their own from Sam Griffin and Jordan Phillips and the visitors started finding their offensive rhythm, chipping away until they were down just one at 63-62 with 4:41 left.

Pemberton came up huge in the next two offensive possessions though, scoring two three-point plays (layup plus the free throw) and then his third triple from downtown to push the Bulldog lead back up to seven.

LA Tech dug in defensively from then on out, limiting UTA to just two made field goals (out of eight shots) the rest of the way to seal its fourth straight win in a season opener and 14th straight home opener.

“JaColby Pemberton and Andrew Gordon really gave us a big lift,” said Konkol. “We are trying to find lineups. We found a couple of different lineups where we were able to get the ball inside and take advantage of our size. We want to have great balance. This was a hard-played game and we needed every single guy.

“Being able to play this game safely and compete against somebody else for the first time in a long time was special. You think about all of the different sacrifices of the players and staff and you think about the commitment of our administration and entire training staff. I was excited and grateful.”

Pemberton finished with his sixth career double-double, registering a career-high 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds.

Gordon tacked on a career-high 14 points and was joined in double-figures by starters Ledoux (13 points) and Amorie Archibald (12 points). Archibald also added six rebounds, five assists and three steals in the game.

LA Tech shot 44 percent from the field (28-64) and 9-of-23 from behind the arc (9-23).

The Mavericks, who were held to 37 percent shooting as a team (26-70), had three players reach double-figures, led by the duo of David Azore and Shahada Wells who each totaled 18 points. Azore added 12 boards for a double-double.

LA Tech returns to action on Sunday, Nov. 29 when they play host to Northwestern State. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. in the TAC.

For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB).

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As a New Orleans-area native, Jude grew up a fan of all sports and teams in the area. It’s a passion for the games that brought him into the fields of sports broadcasting and journalism. Whether he’s informing, reporting or entertaining, Jude brings his own special flavor to the task at hand. This Jesuit High School and Loyola New Orleans…

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