Bulldogs Win Overtime Thriller
RUSTON – It took an extra five minutes, but Louisiana Tech kept its undefeated home record intact by outlasting league-leader Marshall 89-80 in overtime on Thursday night in front of 3,745 fans inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.
Despite LA Tech (14-7, 4-4 C-USA) leading for much of the game, they needed a driving layup by DaQuan Bracey with five seconds left to send it into the extra frame at 72-72.
Going up against a seasoned Marshall (12-8, 5-2 C-USA) squad, led by their preseason All-Conference USA senior duo, it was the Bulldogs who were poised in OT as they came up with big defensive stops and outscored the Herd 17-8.
“I thought it was a tremendous defensive effort by our entire group,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “To hold them to under one point per possession, they are a high-octane team. In moments where our guys weren’t playing well, they came together. I give our crowd and our student section a lot of credit for that. I thought our defensive effort turned into some really good offense. And we had poise down the stretch.”
Marshall’s lone lead in the first half came at the 12:45 mark, up 12-11. From there, LA Tech went on its largest run of the entire game, a 10-0 run, that included three-pointers from Ra’Shawn Langston, Jacolby Pemberton and Mubarak Muhammed which forced a Herd timeout.
The Bulldogs’ lead whittled down to four late in the frame, but three points from Oliver Powell and a fastbreak layup at the buzzer by Bracey pushed it back out to nine at 35-26 going into the locker room.
The first-half defense was stellar, holding scoring machines Jon Elmore and CJ Burk to a combined eight points.
Burks quickly changed that in the second half, catching fire that ultimately resulted in a game-high 29 points to go along with 12 rebounds. One of his 13 field goals was a driving layup off the glass which gave the Herd only their second lead of the game at 69-68 with 55 seconds remaining in regulation.
The ‘Dogs did not panic. Bracey ended a 10-minute scoring drought himself by countering with a layup of his own to swing the lead back in LA Tech’s favor at 70-69.
After Marshall called a desperate timeout to avoid turning it over on an over-and-back, Jannson Williams stepped up and buried a triple from the wing to hand the Herd a two-point edge with 12 seconds to go.
Then came Bracey again, flying up the court and going coast-to-coast for the game-tying bucket.
“It was such a back and forth game,” Konkol said. “As a coach, you always worry a little bit about losing momentum. We gave up the three, but we came back and scored it to send it into overtime. Our guys were locked in. The players really led that huddle and did not want to lose this one. They were focused. They really had a jolt and got key stops and made free throws.”
The DayDay Show continued in overtime as he came up with two huge steals which led to a three-point play by Anthony Duruji off an offensive rebound and a thunderous dunk by Langston which put the game away.
“It was a fun game,” Bracey said. “You like to play games like that because it is up and down. It is full of action. Hats off to Marshall because they played a tough game.”
LA Tech found its shooting stroke again, going 33-of-67 from the field (49 percent) and 7-of-19 from beyond the arc (37 percent). Bracey tied his career high with 25 points while also tallying six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Other big performances came from Pemberton who notched his third double-double of the season with a career-high 18 points and 11 boards. Duruji notched 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and Langston added 12 off the bench.
Elmore was held to single digits for only the third time this season, scoring eight points and committing four turnovers. The Herd shot 46 percent as a team (32-69) from the field and 30 percent from downtown (8-27).