Bulldogs pull away from Mastodons, win New Orleans Shootout

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NEW ORLEANS – Two regular season tournaments. Two titles.

Louisiana Tech brought home its second trophy of the year on Friday afternoon as the Bulldogs pulled away from Fort Wayne in the final minutes to claim an 85-76 victory and the inaugural New Orleans Shootout championship at the Xavier Convocation Center.

Despite the adversity of injuries and illness, LA Tech (9-4) was able to close out the non-conference season strong by picking up victories in the Big Easy.

Senior guard Jacobi Boykins was named to the All-Tournament Team after hitting six three-pointers and tying his season high with 23 points.

Sophomore guard DaQuan Bracey was selected as the Tournament MVP with a career-high 25 points, scoring/assisting on the final nine points to seal the win over Fort Wayne (9-6) who had won three straight, including a 20-point win at Indiana.

“I am so proud of our guys,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “We are battling a lot of adversity right now. The guys stepped up for each and that is really what this game is all about. These guys did this for each other and were able to come away with a win against a really good team.

“This was a great test for us today. We faced an opponent that posed a lot of challenges for us. We were able to get our guys more experiencing which is what non-conference play is about. I feel this non-conference slate has really tested us.”

Clinging to a 24-22 advantage, the Bulldogs got two three-pointers from Boykins and junior guard Derric Jean and a thundering one-handed dunk by sophomore forward Oliver Powell to go on an 8-2 run and take an eight-point advantage.

Eight points would be the halftime for LA Tech thanks to Powell tipping in a basket on an offensive rebound right before the buzzer sounded, giving him 13 points at intermission (finished with a career-high 17).

The ‘Dogs ended up building a 12-point edge with 15:39 to play when Jean grabbed the steal and took it the distance for a slam dunk.

The Mastodons refused to go away though, putting together a mini 7-0 run to get back to within two possessions.

The lead was at four points midway through the second stanza, but LA Tech hit three straight triples courtesy of Jean, Bracey (beat the shot clock) and Boykins. The Bulldogs went on to build a 73-60 advantage with 5:39 to go and in position to run away with it.

Then came Fort Wayne. They went on a 14-3 run over the next two-plus minutes to cut the deficit down to two with still 3:25 to play in the game.

After the media timeout, it became the DayDay show. First he was fouled on a three-point attempt and knocked down all three free throws. He then turned back-to-back defensive stops into a driving layup and two more free throws from the charity stripe.

The exclamation came with 29 seconds remaining with Bracey grabbed the steal and dished it up to freshman guard Exavian Christon, making his second straight start, who threw down the dunk.

For the final three minutes, The Mastodons were held to zero field goals.

“Jacobi and DaQuan really led us today,” Konkol said. “I thought on both ends, they made things difficult for our opponent. They executed and offensively, when we needed big plays, they were able to deliver.”

LA Tech ended up shooting 53 percent from the field (31-59) and 50 percent from three-point range (10-20). They also knocked down 13-of-17 free throws.

Fort Wayne was 26-of-55 from the field (47 percent) and 10-of-27 from deep (37 percent). Senior guard Bryson Scott finished with a game-high 27 points

LA Tech will have a few days off for Christmas break and then travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky to take on WKU on Thursday, Dec. 28 to open up Conference USA play. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

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

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