Late push gives LA Tech win over Marshall, 75-68

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RUSTON – It came as no surprise that the matchup between Louisiana Tech and Marshall went down to the wire to decide a victor in the Conference USA opener.

And it was the Bulldogs who pulled away from the Thundering Herd in the final minutes, winning 75-68 on Friday night inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

LA Tech (8-2, 1-0 C-USA) held a slim 66-65 edge with 3:40 remaining in the game. From there, the team outscored Marshall (6-2, 0-1 C-USA), 9-3, while limiting the Herd to zero made field goals.

Offensively during the stretch, the Bulldogs got two important buckets at the rim by Isaiah Crawford and Cobe Williams to push it to a two-possession lead. And more importantly, they finally got their free throws to fall, making five of their last six attempts to seal their 13th straight home win.

“Our defense kept us in the game, especially in the first half,” said head coach Eric Konkol. “It ignited us in the second half as we were able to string together stops and get into a better rhythm on the offensive end. Marshall is a tough team to score on and to cover.

“In the final minutes, we tried to keep the ball in the middle of the floor on offense and really take care of the basketball. Thankfully, we were finally able to make some free throws. Then on defense, we just tried to mix things up and keep them contained.”

Points were tough to come by for either team in the first half as both squads made just 10 field goals. Taevion Kinsey ended up breaking the fourth tie of the game with a late three-pointer to give the visiting team a 30-27 advantage at the halfway point.

JaColby Pemberton quickly tied things up for a fifth time with a three-pointer from the wing on LA Tech’s opening possession of the second stanza. The Bulldogs ended up scoring a quick 16 points through the first four-plus minutes of the period to grab a 43-37 lead.

Marshall struck back with a 7-0 run to retake the lead and ended up getting back-to-back triples from Mikel Beyers and Kinsey to take its largest lead of the game at 56-51 with 9:46 left to play.

However, Crawford answered back with nine straight points in the span of two minutes for the ‘Dogs with two threes and a three-point play after the make and the free throw to help LA Tech go back on top.

“Isaiah is so versatile,” said Konkol. “He has really worked hard on his perimeter shooting and knocked down a couple of big ones tonight. And he is strong enough to guard people in the post and battle for rebounds. I was really proud of him, especially considering how hard he has worked to come back from his injury last season.”

The Bulldogs never surrendered the lead from that point forward, ultimately holding Marshall to a season low in points (came in averaging 82.1 points per game). There were 15 lead changes on top of the five ties.

All 15 of Crawford’s points came in the second half. He was one of five LA Tech players to score double-digit points, tying with Kenneth Lofton, Jr. for the team lead as the freshman also had 15 to go along with a team-high seven boards. Exavian Christon chipped in with a season-high 11 points while Williams and Pemberton each tallied 10 points.

LA Tech ended up shooting 27-of-58 from the field (46.6 percent), but overcame its struggles from behind the arc (33.3 percent) and at the free throw line (53.8 percent) to improve to 7-1 in C-USA openers.

Marshall shot 39.1 percent from the field (25-64) and 25.8 percent from downtown (8-31). Kinsey led all scorers with 21 points.

LA Tech and Marshall will battle again on Saturday with tipoff set for 6 p.m. The matchup will be streamed live on ESPN+.

For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB).

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