LA Tech undone by late run from Rice, 78-66

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HOUSTON – It was a back and forth basketball game between Louisiana Tech and Rice on Saturday afternoon, but the Owls hit some big three-pointers down the stretch to hand the Bulldogs a 78-66 loss inside Tudor Fieldhouse.

The game was tied up on eight different occasions and LA Tech (11-5, 1-2 C-USA) had a slim 62-61 lead at the final media timeout. It was Rice (7-9, 2-1 C-USA) though that hit the timely shots in the final four minutes, connecting on three triples and making all eight of their free throw attempts.

“I thought Rice got off to a good start, but we battled back to get a lead at the half,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “I was pleased with our execution on both ends of the floor, but I thought the real difference was the three-point shot. They hit three very timely threes in those last four minutes. Difficult ones too. That put the game out of reach for us.”

The three-point shot was the major difference in the game as LA Tech was only able to connect on six of its 26 attempts. On the other end of the court, Rice knocked down 11 of their 25.

That was how the Owls were able to build an early 19-11 lead as Jack Williams and Trey Murphy III went back-to-back from downtown to force a Bulldog timeout with 13:36 left in the first half.

With leading scorer DaQuan Bracey in foul trouble and a short bench, LA Tech went into a 2-3 zone on defense and the defensive change paid off. While the ‘Dogs were getting defensive stops, they were getting triples of their own from Ra’Shawn Langston who hit three in a row off the bench.

The Bulldogs captured their first lead when Anthony Duruji crashed the glass and got the putback to go up 25-23, capping off an 8-0 run with 6:10 to go. Ultimately, they were able to take a 33-30 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

“It got us back in the ball game, breaking the rhythm of the game,” Konkol said. “It made them stand a little bit and we were able to make them miss. I thought we gave up too many rebounds, especially in the first half, but still we were able to collect enough to turn that into good offensive play to take the lead.”

Rice managed to grab another 8-point lead that forced another timeout by coach Konkol, down 48-40 with 13:56 remaining in the game. But the Bulldogs fought back yet again, especially with Bracey scored 10 straight points during a stretch.

Holding on to a narrow 62-61 lead at the final media timeout (3:54 left), the game was going to come down to who could make the winning plays. Unfortunately, that was the Owls who got three triples from three different players to put the game out of reach for the Bulldogs.

Bracey ended up finishing with a game-high 18 points. Also contributing on the offensive end were JaColby Pemberton who matched his career high with 15 points. Langston also matched his career high with 13 points and Duruji added 10.

The team shot 42 percent from the field (26-62). Rice also shot 42 percent from the field (27-65) but had the big advantage making five more three-pointers. The Owls had four players in double figures, led by Ako Adams who had 16 points.

Rice also had a huge advantage in the rebounding category with a plus-13 to go along with 16 second chance points.

LA Tech returns home for its next conference matchup which comes on Thursday, Jan. 10 against UAB. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

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