LA Tech grabs elusive road C-USA victory, 72-69, at FAU
BOCA RATON, Florida – In their final game of the regular season, Louisiana Tech had one more opportunity to pick up its first conference road win of the year.
And the Bulldogs came through, making winning plays down the stretch to come away with a 72-69 victory over the Owls of Florida Atlantic on Wednesday night inside FAU Arena.
LA Tech (19-12, 9-9 C-USA) played its best basketball of the night during a seven-minute stretch to build a 10-point lead, its largest of the game, with one minute to go. A hectic final 60 seconds ensued though with FAU (17-13, 8-9 C-USA) having a chance to send it into overtime on the last possession, but DaQuan Bracey intercepted the in-bounds pass to seal the team’s first road win since Dec. 15.
“Coming off a tough loss the other day, our guys had a real focus on what we needed to do to get better for this game and for the remainder of this season,” said head coach Eric Konkol. “I am really proud of them for coming together the way they did.
“The energy level in the two practices leading up to this game, although they were short, they were very lively. You sensed that the guys really wanted to play well for one another. It showed on the defensive end and it showed with the way we shared the ball.”
The Bulldogs got back to defending at a high level, tying their season high with 10 steals while contesting a lot of jump shots to help limit the Owls to just seven made three-pointers.
Florida Atlantic did have a stretch where it made 10 of its first 17 shots in the second half, holding a slim 55-53 advantage over LA Tech with 7:51 to play in the game.
Then came shutdown defense by the Bulldogs, forcing the Owls to miss nine of their next 10 shot attempts. The backcourt duo of Bracey and Amorie Archibald turned those defensive stops into offense, combining to score 11 of the team’s next 15 points to grab a 68-58 lead with 1:07 to go.
“I thought the guys played with great poise,” said Konkol. “There was a stretch where FAU was really scoring on us, but the guys stayed calm and stayed connected. They worked really hard and didn’t get outside themselves. We made them miss, collected some rebounds and then came down to calmly connect on the other end. To extend a lead on the road, you have to be able to play with togetherness and the guys did that.”
Bracey’s driving layup with a little over a minute left would be the last field goal the ‘Dogs make. They sank just enough free throws in the closing seconds to withstand a chaotic comeback by the Owls.
In the first half, LA Tech was able to withstand Bracey being in foul trouble. Bracey hit three triples and had 11 points before sitting the final nine minutes. Adding to the offense in the stanza was Anthony Duruji who scored 12 of his 14 points through the first 20 minutes of action, helping the Bulldogs hold a 34-28 halftime edge.
In the second half, it was Archibald joining Bracey in filling up the basket. Archibald scored all 16 of his points in the second stanza while Bracey finished with a game-high 21 points.
LA Tech was very efficient offensively, shooting 48 percent from the field (23-48), 53 percent from beyond the arc (10-19) and 80 percent from the foul line (16-20). Mubarak Muhammed was the fourth Bulldog in double figures with 10 points. Duruji added a game-high eight rebounds and a career-high four steals to his stat line.
FAU was limited to 41 percent shooting (22-54) from the field. The Owls had three players score in double figures – Karlis Silins (19), Anthony Adger (17) and Xavian Stapleton (17).
LA Tech will now await its seeding in the C-USA Tournament with the bracket set to be released on Saturday night. The Bulldogs will play on Wednesday, March 13 with the opponent and tip time to be determined.
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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