LA Tech battles past Stephen F. Austin in OT

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NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Last season, Louisiana Tech suffered a rare loss at home at the hands of Stephen F. Austin in a late-game thriller.

On Friday night in William R. Johnson Coliseum, the Bulldogs were the ones delivering the rare home loss as they pulled out a 96-93 overtime victory over the Lumberjacks.

Earlier this season, LA Tech (7-3) did what very few teams had done and that was win at Wichita State. A month later, the ‘Dogs did what very few teams had done and that was win at SFA (5-3), a place where the ‘Jacks were 91-4 dating back to the 2012-13 season (and only two of those losses came in non-conference).

“First off, you have to tip your hat off to SFA and especially [Shannon] Bogues and [Davonte] Fitzgerald,” said head coach Eric Konkol about the two ‘Jacks who combined for 65 points. “Those two guys, the performances they had offensively, were spectacular and really made it difficult on our defense. They made a number of tough shots.

“But, I am really proud of our guys. We talked this week about the next play and just moving on to the next play. Of course, we made mistakes, but we were able to move on quickly and come away with the win.”

The Bulldogs had to quickly move on to the next play, and really the next five extra minutes of overtime, as the latter part of regulation could have haunted them with numerous missed free throws and a missed box out that allowed the ‘Jacks to tie the game up at 83-83 and force OT.

The home team got the first two points of the extra frame, but LA Tech countered with a made free throw from sophomore Anthony Duruji and a tough and-one from junior DaQuan Bracey to give the ‘Dogs an 87-85 edge with 3:42 to go.

As was the case for basically the entire game, SFA punched back with a three-pointer (one of their 15 total) from Fitzgerald to go up by one. He made two free throws soon thereafter to put them up three, but senior Derric Jean shined all night in big moments and did so at this point in the game with one of his two triples to tie it up for a fourth time.

Sophomore Amorie Archibald connected on a three-pointer to give LA Tech the three-point advantage. That lead was quickly erased by Bogues who hit his ninth from beyond the arc.

At 93-93 with 2:02 to go, the winning team was going to be the one who could make the defense stops. And that team was the Bulldogs who forced back-to-back turnovers and contested the last two shot attempts that came up short for SFA.

On the flipside, junior Oliver Powell made a big free throw (his only point of the entire game) with 25 seconds remaining to give the visiting team a one-point lead. Of all people crashing the glass to not allow another offensive board by the ‘Jacks like at the end of regulation, it was 5-foot-11-inch Bracey who jumped high for the rebound in traffic and pitched it ahead to Duruji who delivered the exclamation point with a monster two-handed slam.

“Feeling like you should have won in regulation, every excuse is running through your mind with if you lose the game what can you point to,” Konkol said. “I am very proud of our team for that type of growth, to move on to the next play and focus on it being a five-minute game in overtime and go win it. That is what they did.”

LA Tech was fortunate to be down only nine (40-31) at halftime after shooting just 36 percent from the field, turning the ball over seven times and SFA drilling seven timely threes.

However, it was a near flawless performance from an offensive standpoint in the second half for the Bulldogs. They put up 52 total points while connecting on 69 percent of their shots, making seven threes from six different players, and only committing one turnover for the second 20 minutes.

Two stats that helped tell the story of how the ‘Dogs pulled out yet another road win at a tough venue was points off turnovers (33-4 in favor of Tech with a +12 turnover margin) and the bench points (24-10 in favor of Tech).

Unlike the two incredible scoring performances from SFA’s Fitzgerald and Bogues who scored 33 and 32 points, respectively, LA Tech got its production with a collective effort of five guys in double figures – Bracey (20), Archibald (18), Duruji (17), Jean (16) and a career-high 15 from sophomore JaColby Pemberton off the bench.

Next up for LA Tech is a home matchup with Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

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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