By: Kane McGuire/Louisiana Tech Athletics
EL PASO, Texas – Louisiana Tech picked up its fourth straight late Thursday night with a hard-fought 64-52 victory over UTEP inside the Don Haskins Center.
Defense was winning on both sides of the floor to start the game as LA Tech (12-3, 3-0 C-USA) held a slim 11-10 lead midway through the first half.
The Bulldogs found their offensive rhythm for the rest of the stanza, starting with a three-pointer by Kaleb Stewart that ignited a 19-2 run. Cobe Williams netted seven of his game-high 17 points in the final three minutes to help LA Tech hold a 41-25 advantage at halftime.
Offense was hard to come by again in the second half, but the ‘Dogs held a 53-34 lead with 9:11 to play. UTEP (7-7, 0-2 C-USA) made its big run right after that, scoring 13 straight points to get to within six with 5:31 still to go.
Kenneth Lofton, Jr. took over from there, scoring back-to-back tough buckets and then picking off a pass that led to a fastbreak three-point play converted by Williams. Defensively, the Bulldogs allowed just five points by the Miners after they sliced their deficit down to a two-possession game.
Half of Lofton, Jr.’s career-high 18 rebounds came in the final nine minute of the game. He also added 11 points for his eighth double-double of the season.
The 52 points was the fewest allowed by LA Tech this season. UTEP was led in scoring by Jamal Bieniemy who had a game-high 28 points. The Miners shot just 33 percent from the field and from three while the Bulldogs shot 42 percent from the field and sank 14 of their 18 free throw attempts.
Head coach Eric Konkol
“I told our team these road games in conference are very difficult. I thought we coasted a little bit in the second half, but you have to give UTEP credit. They play so hard. I thought our guys absolutely emptied the tank. We made enough plays down the stretch all the way to Exavian’s big three late. I am very appreciative of their great effort tonight.”
· LA Tech now leads the all-time series over UTEP, 17-12. The Bulldogs won back-to-back meetings in El Paso for the first time (won 73-55 at UTEP last season).
· The Bulldogs improved to 3-0 in conference for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
· The Bulldogs held the Miners to just 52 points, the fewest they have allowed this season. They have held three of their last four opponents to less than 60 points.
· Amorie Archibald made his 137th career appearance (71st consecutive start).
· Cobe Williams scored a team-high 17 points. The point guard has scored in double figures in four straight games and in six of the last seven.
· Kenneth Lofton, Jr. registered his eighth double-double of the season with 11 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. It was the most rebounds by a C-USA player this season and the most by a Bulldog since 2016 (Erik McCree).
LA Tech heads to San Antonio to face UTSA on Saturday, Jan. 8. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. CT and will be streamed live on ESPN+.
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