By: Kane McGuire/Louisiana Tech Athletics
RUSTON – On paper, it was supposed to be a low-scoring, defensive battle between Louisiana Tech and Charlotte.
It was anything but.
The Bulldogs ended up being hotter than the 49ers offensively though, connecting on a season-tying 13 three-pointers to help come away with a 72-59 victory on Thursday night inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.
Twelve of the 13 threes came from four starters – Derric Jean, Amorie Archibald, JaColby Pemberton and DaQuan Bracey – as they combined to shoot 71 percent from beyond the arc.
Charlotte (12-8, 6-3 C-USA) was just as impressive from deep, tying a season-high as well with 11 made three-pointers, but LA Tech (16-5, 7-2 C-USA) was able to string together more defensive stops and keep the opposition off the foul line to help produce the team’s 10th home win of the season and move them into a tie for second in the league standings.
“We knew were playing a very good team in Charlotte,” said head coach Eric Konkol. “They are a team that stretches you in many different directions. Being able to hold them at bay and not let them get to the foul line was huge tonight. And we knew that they were a great defensive team and that we were going to have to really move the basketball. Getting off to a good start, getting some of those threes from the start, gave us a lot of confidence. It was a very nice victory for us.”
The good start came courtesy of Bracey who nailed back-to-back threes from the same spot in the corner in front of the 49ers bench. Pemberton, Archibald and Jean fired in three-pointers as well in the early going to help give the ‘Dogs a 19-10 advantage with 14:23 to go in the first half.
“Whenever we start fast, it makes it hard for teams to come back,” said Bracey. “And being at home, shots that we take here are with a lot of confidence. It is always different shooting on someone else’s court. We stress getting into the paint and kicking it out and we were able to do that tonight.”
Charlotte responded with three straight triples of their own by three different players and ended up taking its first (and only) lead of the game at 28-27 with a three from Cooper Robb at the 7:27 mark.
LA Tech put together arguably its best defensive stretch the remainder of the first half, limited the opposition to just one made field goal the rest of the way while getting six straight points from Andrew Gordon to take a 36-32 lead into halftime.
After Gordon sank another basket to give him a season-high eight points and give the ‘Dogs a 49-41 lead with 13:07 to go, the 49ers went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit down to one midway through the second stanza.
But LA Tech outscored Charlotte, 23-11, the rest of the way by using the three-pointer and another stretch of strong defense.
“We’ve got to be a gritty defensive team,” said Konkol. “There were times that Charlotte got loose and connected on some. Once we settled in and started to contest shots better and finish plays, we got into more of a rhythm. We were also able to create some turnovers in the second half and turn those into baskets.”
Bracey (15), Archibald (14), Jean (season-high 16) and Mubarak Muhammed (10) each made five field goals on their way to double-digit scoring. The team ended up shooting a staggering 56 percent (27-of-48) from the field and 59 percent (13-of-22) from downtown.
Charlotte made 21-of-46 field goals for 46 percent and 11-of-26 three-pointers for 42 percent. Robb led the way for the 49ers with 13 points off the bench.
LA Tech returns to the TAC on Saturday, Feb. 1 to take on defending C-USA champion Old Dominion. Fans are encouraged to wear red for the annual “Red Out” game which tips off at 4 p.m.
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