Bulldogs hold off Islanders for 10th win

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RUSTON – Amorie Archibald tied his career high with 21 points and DaQuan Bracey made the last seven points down the stretch as Louisiana Tech held off Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to pick up win No. 10 of the season by a final score of 73-68 on Saturday afternoon inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

Archibald connected on a career-high five three-pointers to help LA Tech (10-3) hold a comfortable 66-52 lead with 3:37 to go in the game.

Over the next two minutes though Corpus Christi (5-7) caught fire, hitting three three-pointers to help go on a 12-2 run to slice the deficit down to four. That was as close as they would get as Bracey got a driving layup to fall and hit three big free throws in the final seconds to help give the Bulldogs their sixth straight victory.

“I thought it was a gutsy performance by our group,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “We are limited in bodies right now. We have a couple of guys that aren’t so healthy and then Oliver Powell has been under the weather. Then you have to give credit to Corpus Christi. They are a hard playing team and they didn’t stop. They kept clawing and scratching and got themselves back into the game. I thought it was timely plays by our team on both ends of the floor, and the free throws down the stretch, that helped us get this win.”

Field goals were not a plenty for the ‘Dogs through much of the first half. The Islanders broke the seventh tie of the game at 22-22 with a free throw from Irshaad Hunte, followed by a layup from Kareem South, to grab a three-point edge with 4:31 remaining in the first stanza.

After Anthony Duruji sank a pair of free throws himself, he connected on a triple that was followed up with a triple by Ra’Shawn Langston. Two more free throws from Langston gave LA Tech a 32-29 edge at the break.

The run continued at the start of the second half as Jacolby Pemberton had a putback layup and then a fastbreak layup which forced a TAMUCC timeout with the Bulldogs holding a 38-29 advantage.

The defense was stellar for LA Tech through the first 13 minutes of the second stanza, building their largest lead to 61-46 with 6:54 to play after Archibald’s fifth three-pointer.

It was one of only two three-pointers made by the team in the second half as much of the damage on offense was coming in the paint and at the foul line.

“You can’t take any win for granted,” Konkol said. “I thought we prepared well and guys were excited to play. It was just one of those games where you are fighting foul trouble, fighting illness, playing big minutes against a team that really grinds out possessions. These are tough games to play. You look across the country and there are interesting scores leading up to the Christmas break. We are thankful to come away with this one.”

For the 11th time this season, at least four Bulldogs scored in double figures. Archibald led the way, followed by Bracey with 15, Duruji with 14 and Pemberton with 11. The squad managed to only shoot 37 percent from the field (20-54), but hit nine threes and made 24 free throws.

The Islanders started out hot, making 10 of their first 20 shots, but cooled down to shoot 41 percent from the field (24-59) and 30 percent from beyond the arc (8-27). They were led by Elijah Schmidt who finished with 16 points, 12 of which came in the first half.

LA Tech will now head into the 18-game Conference USA schedule which begins on Saturday, Dec. 29 versus Southern Miss. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. in the TAC.

For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB) or visit the official website at LATechSports.com.

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