LA Tech tames Jackson State, 91-62

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RUSTON – Four Bulldog starters scored in double figures, led by sophomore Jalen Harris who registered 22 points, as Louisiana Tech used its balanced scoring to defeat Jackson State, 91-62, on Saturday night inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

It was another strong offensive performance for LA Tech (7-2) who shot over 50 percent from the field for a fifth time this season. More importantly though was the defensive effort.

In the loss on Wednesday they allowed 85 points, including a combined 38 on second-chance points and off turnovers. Tonight against JSU (2-7), the Bulldogs were much better on that side of the court, especially in the second half when they gave up only 22 points by the Tigers.

“I was very concerned at halftime,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “We shot the ball extremely well, but as I told the team at halftime, we weren’t defending the way we needed to defend. We can’t count on just playing good offense. I was really pleased with the way the guys responded in the second half. We achieved some of our game goals that we look for defensively, in that second half.

“I was encouraged with the way the guys really came together and put more emphasis on what we needed to do on defense.”

LA Tech was clicking on all cylinders from the tip, making its first four field goals and first four free throws to grab an early 12-3 lead. Jackson State responded though with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit down to two.

The game would eventually get knotted up at 15-15, but senior guard Jacobi Boykins then got hot from three. He made three triples to give the Bulldogs a double-digit lead at 43-31.

His third three was followed by a posterizing dunk, plus the foul, from sophomore guard DaQuan Bracey that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Completing the triple-threat in the first stanza was sophomore guard Jalen Harris who posted 19 points through the first 20 minutes.

The trio combined to shoot 15-of-19 from the field to score 40 of the team’s 53 points. But as good as they were with the ball, they only had a 13-point lead at intermission.

“We’re always looking for great balance – in everything we do,” Konkol said. “We don’t want to have to lean on any one category. We don’t want to lean on offense. We don’t want to lean on defense. We want to be balanced, and that comes with scoring as well.

“We feel like we have a deep roster of a lot of different guys that can contribute in so many different ways. We’d love to have five guys in double figures each night if we could.”

Coming out of the break, the offense picked up right where they left off. They scored the first eight points – three-pointers by Harris and junior forward Jy’lan Washington and an offensive putback by Bracey – of the second period to force a Tigers timeout.

It took JSU over 10 minutes to reach the 50-point mark. By then, the Bulldogs had put the game out of reach, increasing their lead to 75-50 with 9:15 to play.

LA Tech ended up shooting 52 percent from the field (29-of-56) and 39 percent from three-point range (10-of-26). They were clutch at the free throw line again, making 23-of-29 attempts.

Boykins made five of his six three-pointers, recording 19 points. Bracey and Washington both finished with 12 points apiece. Sophomore forward Oliver Powell came off the bench to register a career-high and game-high eight boards.

Jackson State shot 35 percent from the field (22-of-63) and 28 percent from deep (5-of-18). Almost half of their offensive production came from forward Maurice Rivers who tallied a game-high 30 points.

LA Tech closes out its home-stand on Tuesday, Dec. 12 against in-state foe Louisiana-Lafayette. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. in the TAC.

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