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Men’s college basketball: Tech falls to North Texas in C-USA tournament semifinals


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

FRISCO, Texas – In round three of Louisiana Tech and North Texas, it was yet another tough, defensive battle that came down to the final minute.

The Bulldogs wound up being on the losing in on Friday, falling 54-48 to the Mean Green in the C-USA Tournament semifinals at the Ford Center at the Star.

Scoring was hard to come by for both squads.  Neither LA Tech (21-7) nor UNT (16-9) shot over 40 percent from the field.  Both went 3-of-17 from beyond the arc. 

It was just a matter of the Mean Green taking a lead early in the second half, and the Bulldogs not being able to get over the hump despite getting to within one possession on multiple occasions.     

“It was a tough one for us,” said head coach Eric Konkol.  “We had a hard time getting into a rhythm today.  North Texas is a very good defensive team.  It was one of those games that went back and forth.  We just could not quite get over the hump.  I’m so proud of this group of guys, for enduring so much, especially over the last week with injuries. 

“It was a physical game on both sides.  We had to try to manufacture tough baskets.  We had a couple of shots rim out.  We had a hard time scoring throughout the game.”

Despite his hand injury, Cobe Williams dressed out and ended up playing three minutes, essentially with just one hand available.  The point guard, who had started every game during the regular season and never missed a practice, was missed.

The Bulldogs were able to overcome their 17 turnovers in the quarterfinals without him, but they could not overcome the 15 turnovers versus the Mean Green that led to 21 points for the opposition.

UNT used a 10-0 run early in the second half to take a 34-26 advantage, forcing a timeout by coach Konkol.  The ‘Dogs chipped away little by little, getting to within three at 39-36 after mini 4-0 run off a Kalob Ledoux jumper and two free throws by JaColby Pemberton.

Minutes later, the Bulldogs got to within a possession two different times, one after a three-point play by Pemberton to make it 41-39 and again at 43-41 after a made jumper by Isaiah Crawford. 

The Mean Green got a dagger three by Mardrez McBride to push the UNT advantage out to 46-41 with 4:08 to go.  They would make eight free throws the rest of the way while the Bulldogs could not get to the free throw line and shot 2-for-11 from the field down the stretch. 

Pemberton led LA Tech in scoring with 12 points while Kenneth Lofton, Jr. posted 10.  Both players pulled down five rebounds.

Four Mean Green players scored in double-figures, led by Javion Halmet who had 18.

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— Featured photo courtesy of Conference USA

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