Defensive-minded LA Tech takes down Montana State, 71-58
RUSTON – Head coach Eric Konkol wanted to see two things on Saturday night – the Bulldogs improve defensively and senior Jacobi Boykins find his shooting stroke again.
Louisiana Tech put together a strong performance on D and Boykins poured in a game-high 23 points to come away with a 71-58 victory over Montana State inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.
LA Tech (3-0) extended its home-winning streak to 10 and will take its undefeated record to Mexico next week as they take part in the 10th annual Cancun Challenge at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.
“I really thought the team was attentive,” Konkol said. “We had all week to prepare for this one. Montana State is very good and they are going to win a lot of games this year. They are a team that runs a lot of different actions. I thought our guys were really attentive in the preparation and it showed tonight. I am really proud of them for that.”
Hopefully tonight’s defense plans to come on the trip. After allowing 83 points per game through their first two contests, the Bulldogs held Montana State (2-2) who came in averaging 90 points per game to just 58.
MSU had the early advantage though in the game. The visitors opened up a 13-5 lead seven minutes into the game. Boykins helped pull the ‘Dogs out of the early hole though, making six straight points (three coming from the foul line and the other three coming from the corner).
LA Tech eventually took its first lead of the game at 23-22 after a made free throw by sophomore Jalen Harris with 4:20 to go in the first half.
The score later was tied up at 31-all with 90 seconds to play before intermission, but the Bulldogs got an old-fashioned three-point play from sophomore DaQuan Bracey and a free throw by junior Derric Jean to take a four-point edge into the locker room.
The break did not slow Boykins down at all. A set play on the team’s first possession went to the sharp shooter at the top of the arc and he drained it for his fourth three-pointer of the game.
“This was a great game for Jacobi,” Konkol said. “I thought he guys did a really good job finding him. He hit a couple of corner threes and played a very efficient game. He got to the foul line and did a great job defensively as well. I was very happy for him.”
He hit three-pointers No. 5 and No. 6 a few minutes later that gave the Bulldogs a 48-35 advantage. The Bobcats, playing without their star player Tyler Hall, were still fighting and clawing though. They got to within six at 54-48 after a made layup by sophomore Harald Frey.
After the media timeout, Bracey hit a timely three-pointer from the right corner. Then after a defensive stop, the point guard dished it to sophomore Oliver Powell who made the layup to get the lead back up to double digits.
LA Tech would make only one more field goal in the final six minutes. But they attacked the rim and got to the free throw to make eight. And on defense, they held Montana State to just one made field goal in its last 10 shots to preserve the win.
LA Tech ended up shooting 19-of-55 (35 percent) from the field and 9-of-28 (32 percent) from long range, but they made 25 free throws at the charity stripe.
The three-headed backcourt monster of Boykins (23), Harris (15) and Bracey (12) combined to score 50 of the team’s 71 points. Boykins and Harris also paced the team in rebounds with six apiece.
Montana State was limited to 34 percent shooting (21-61) from the field. They were just 8-of-33 in the second half alone. The Bobcats were led by the point guard Frey who registered 17 points.
Next up for LA Tech is a nationally-televised matchup with George Mason on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. CT and can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.
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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