By: Kane McGuire (Louisiana Tech Athletics)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Kenneth Lofton, Jr. recorded a game-high 31 points and 14 rebounds and Louisiana Tech went a perfect 13-of-13 from the foul line, including four big makes in the final 10 seconds, to come away with a 78-75 victory over Santa Clara on Saturday inside the Leavey Center.
Junior was a game-time decision to play in the game due to injury. But, the power forward made the start and was unstoppable yet again in registering his second 30-point, 10-rebound game in the past week.
LA Tech (6-2) took its first lead with 9:10 to go in the first half and held it until Santa Clara (6-3) clawed back to tie it up at 66-66 with 2:47 to play.
Junior then took over, scoring the Bulldogs next eight points including an emphatic two-handed slam dunk to give the visitors a 74-69 edge with 22 seconds to go.
The Broncos would not go away though as Keshawn Justice hit a tough three-pointer on the ensuing play to get them back to within two. The home squad was then forced to foul to put LA Tech on the free throw line, which is where Cobe Williams hit nothing but net on both attempts on the 1-and-1.
Amorie Archibald did the same to give the Bulldogs a 78-75 lead with two seconds remaining. Justice attempted a game-tying three that was off target, giving LA Tech its second road win of the season.
The ‘Dogs got down 15-7 early, but ended up using a 10-0 run to help open up a 29-21 lead. They ended up taking a 33-32 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Santa Clara came into the game ranked top 15 in the country in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. LA Tech limited them to 41 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent from deep on their home floor. Jalen Williams recorded 28 points and Justice had 14.
The Bulldogs shot 42 percent (29-of-69) and made seven of their 22 three-point attempts, three coming from Exavian Christon who finished with a season-high nine points.
Head coach Eric Konkol
“We talk about being gritty and tough and we were that today. After the crazy travel day we had yesterday and not being able to practice. The guys showed a lot of mental toughness, making big shots down the stretch. It was a very physical game. Santa Clara worked with a lot of different speed and length to try to keep the ball out of the paint, but Junior finished so many players. His teammates kept looking for him and did a great job.”
- With the 78-75 victory, LA Tech now leads the all-time series over Santa Clara, 1-0. It was the first ever meeting between the two teams.
- LA Tech improved to 6-2, picking up its second road victory of the year.
- LA Tech handed Santa Clara just their second home loss of the season.
- The Bulldogs went a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line. It was the first time the team shot 100 percent from the foul line since Jan. 28, 2021 against Southern Miss.
- Kenneth Lofton, Jr. had his second 30-point performance, finishing with a game-high 31 points. It was the seventh time in his career he has scored 20+ in a game. He has anchored the team in scoring in all eight games this season.
- Kenneth Lofton, Jr. also pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds. He has led the Bulldogs in rebounding in 13 straight games dating back to last season.
- Kenneth Lofton, Jr. took 25 field goal attempts, the most ever by the power forward and the most by a Bulldog since 2007.
- Exavian Christon scored a season-high nine points, making three three-pointers.
- Amorie Archibald tallied a season-high six assists. He now has 412 career assists.
Louisiana Tech returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 11 to face rival UL-Lafayette inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. and will be nationally-televised on ESPNU.