RUSTON – Louisiana Tech proved too much for Southern Miss for the second time in six days, winning 78-50 on Saturday afternoon in front of 2,341 fans inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.
LA Tech (11-3, 2-0 C-USA) extended its winning streak to five by using basically the same recipe for beating Southern Miss (4-11, 0-2 C-USA) by 31 this past Monday and that was turning great defense into great offense.
The Bulldogs forced 21 turnovers, 10th time this season forcing 15+, and cashed those in for 27 points. In doing so, they also held the opponent to 50 points or less for a fifth time and for a third straight game.
“We knew we were going to play a hard-playing team again,” said head coach Eric Konkol. “Although we were able to hold Southern Miss in check for the most part the other night, the law of averages can be in their favor. I thought once our defense really starting getting into the groove that we hope for each night, that opened up a lot of things for us on both sides.”
The Golden Eagles came out shooting the basketball much better in this second meeting, making six of their first eight field goal attempts in what was a back-and-forth contest for much of the first half.
With LA Tech holding a slim 30-26 edge with only 2:13 remaining until halftime, they blitzed USM by ending the frame on an 11-0 run that included three-pointers by DaQuan Bracey, Kalob Ledoux and Isaiah Crawford who beat the buzzer with one from the top of the key.
The ‘Dogs were not able to get much going on offense though through the first nine minutes of the second half, scoring just 11 points during that stretch which allowed the Golden Eagles to stay within striking distance, down only 11 at 51-40.
From that point on though, LA Tech really cranked up the defensive pressure and ended up forcing eight turnovers the rest of the way. They went on a 22-4 run in the process to put the game well out of reach, defeating USM for a 14th straight time in Ruston and improving to 8-0 at home.
“When you get stops, you get some live-ball turnovers and that typically turns into good offense,” said Konkol. “We have really emphasized turnover margin this season, taking care of the basketball while creating turnovers on the other end. Our guys have been really locked in and they are motivated to have a great year.”
Ledoux was stellar off the bench yet again, notching a game-high 20 points while making four of the squad’s 12 three-pointers. The freshman Crawford did a little bit of everything, registering a career-high 15 points to go along with nine rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Bracey and Amorie Archibald each chipped in 10 points as LA Tech shot 45 percent from the field and 38 percent from downtown.
Southern Miss’s Gabe Watson tallied a team-high 18 points while Tyler Stevenson registered a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards. The team was held to 37 percent shooting and hit only two threes, this after making zero in the last game.
Next up for LA Tech is a trip to San Antonio, Texas to take on UTSA. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 9. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
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