Home Sports-Free Men’s college basketball: Crawford powers Bulldogs to C-USA tournament semifinals

Men’s college basketball: Crawford powers Bulldogs to C-USA tournament semifinals

By Kane McGuire, Louisiana Tech Assistant Athletic Director/Athletic Communications 

FRISCO, Texas – The mantra “Tougher Together” was on display late Thursday night for Louisiana Tech.

The Bulldogs were without starting point guard and C-USA All-Defensive Team member Cobe Williams.  C-USA Freshman of the Year Kenneth Lofton, Jr. fouled out for just the second time this season.

And LA Tech was down three with a little over three minutes to go, but they finished the game on an 11-2 run to take the 75-69 victory over Florida Atlantic.

With the victory, the ‘Dogs advance to the C-USA Tournament Semifinals where they will face North Texas at 2 p.m. Friday on CBS Sports Network.

“It was a tough win against a tough team,” said head coach Eric Konkol.  “Florida Atlantic is well coached and they rebound at a very high rate.  We gave up 12 offensive rebounds, which is took many, but we found just enough on the other end to be able to come away with a very gritty win.

“This was our first game without Cobe this season,” said Konkol.  “We had to really try to figure this out as we were going along.  I give a lot of credit to our guys.  We found a way.  It was not pretty, but the guys found a way.”

Lofton, Jr. fouled out with 4:06 to go after picking up his fourth foul, plus a technical.  FAU (13-10) made three free throws as a result to break the ninth tie of the game. 

All-Conference USA selection Isaiah Crawford was keeping LA Tech (21-6) in the game prior to that, scoring six straight points. 

The forward continued to put the squad on his back the rest of the way.  He knocked down a jumper and then converted an old-fashioned three-point play to give the ‘Dogs a 69-67 advantage. 

After the Owls’ Karlis Silins tied things up for a 10th time at 69-69 with 2:14 left, the Bulldogs went into a rare zone on defense that forced four straight empty attempts for FAU.  On the offensive end, Tech sank six straight critical free throws – four by Crawford and two by Exavian Christon – to seal the victory.

Crawford ended up scoring 15 of the team’s final 17 points of the game, ultimately finishing with a team-high 21 to go along with nine rebounds.

“Isaiah was huge,” said Konkol.  “He was a monster in the second half.  We were trying to get him touches, trying to put him in positions where he could use his size and strength.  And when he got fouled, he made the free throws down the stretch.”

Both teams put on a shooting clinic in the first half, draining seven three-pointers apiece.  LA Tech built its largest lead at 27-18 after a three by Xaiver Armstead and back-to-back triples by Amorie Archibald.

FAU’s Michale Forrest (had a game-high 22 points) was just as hot, making all five of his attempts from beyond the arc, to help the visiting team take its largest advantage at 36-31.  Two late threes by Kalob Ledoux and Archibald gave the ‘Dogs a slim 37-36 edge going into halftime.

JaColby Pemberton had nine of his 13 points in the first half.  The senior also tied Crawford with a team-high nine rebounds.  Ledoux recorded 14 points while Archibald ended with 13. 

LA Tech shot 51.0 percent from the field (26-51) and 47.4 percent from deep (9-19).  FAU was hovering around 50 percent shooting, but the Bulldogs held them to just five FGs out of their last 23 shots.  The Owls ended up shooting 37.7 percent from the field (23-61) and had 11 threes.

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

— Featured photo courtesy of Conference USA

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