RUSTON, La (Louisiana Tech Athletics) – Louisiana Tech picked up its 10th win of the season on Saturday afternoon, getting one last defensive stop in the closing seconds to pull out a 60-58 victory over UTEP inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.
 
LA Tech (10-6, 3-2 C-USA) had the lead for almost 35 minutes, but was never able to stretch it out.  On three different occasions, the Bulldogs made it a 10-point advantage with the last time coming at 51-41 with 8:20 remaining.
 
Their previous 10-point edge, 37-27 at halftime, quickly dwindled in the early parts of the second stanza.  It was a stretch that saw UTEP (8-7, 1-3 C-USA) go on a 9-0 run as the ‘Dogs missed their first five shot attempts and committed four turnovers.
 
The Miners ultimately tied things up at 40-40 after a made layup by Ze’rik Onyema.  However, the home team found some offensive magic in Isaiah Crawford who made seven points during LA Tech’s 11-1 run to push the lead back out to double-digits.
 
UTEP chipped away again though, cutting the deficit down to one on three occasions in the final minutes.  The first time getting to within one point, Keaston Willis lost his defender and drained a three-pointer from the wing (the only one of the second half for LA Tech) to make it a 57-53 score.
 
Those three points were matched by three made free throws from the Miners to make it a one-point game again.  The two squads then traded layups, Quandre Bullock scoring for the Bulldogs and Calvin Solomon scoring for the Miners.
 
Being forced the foul with eight seconds left, Terran Williams stepped to the free throw line missing the first, but making the second to take it to a 60-58 lead.  UTEP went for the win as Tae Hardy took a contested three-point shot that was off the mark.   
 
Four Bulldogs reached double-digit points, led by Cobe Williams who had a game-high 17 points.  Bullocks 12 points tied his career high while Keaston Willis and Dravon Mangum each netted 10. 
 
It was a tale of two halves offensively for both teams as each shot over 50 percent in the first half, but less than 40 percent in the second half. 
 
Three Miners finished in double figures with Shamar Givance leading the way with 11.  
 

QUOTABLES
Head coach Talvin Hester

“We got out-toughed when we went to UTEP.  I thought we did a really good job of being touch and physical today.  Our defensive plan was good enough.  Offensively, we were good in the first half.  I thought the ball stopped moving in the second half, we stopped sharing the basketball.  That is a well-coached team we played.”

“We have been in this situation quite a bit [with these close games].  We have done a lot of film more and have needed to be better in late-game situations.  We had to be better down the stretch.  Our looked at our guys in the eyes with eight seconds left and I said, ‘No lazy basketball right now.  You have give all you got for eight seconds.’  That is what we did.”

Quandre Bullock played an unbelievable first half and was an important part off the bench for us.  He is getting better every day.  He is a player that has only played one year of college basketball.  He is growing and I think the best is yet to come for him.”

Cobe Williams
“It means a lot [getting 1,000 career points].  It is really special.  A lot of players do not reach this.  It is a blessing for me to be able to do it.”

“We wanted to keep going inside.  UTEP was fouling quite a bit so we made the adjustment to try to attack them inside, attack the rim.  We went to El Paso and they got the better of us.  We wanted to get it back.”

NOTABLES

  • With the 60-58 victory, LA Tech now leads the all-time series over UTEP, 18-14. The Bulldogs improved to 11-2 over the Miners in Ruston while snapping a two-game losing streak to UTEP.
  • LA Tech improved to 6-1 at home this season and are now 71-11 all-time at home in Conference USA games.
  • LA Tech forced UTEP into 18 turnovers, marking the 11th time (out of 16 games) this season of forcing at least 15 in a single game.
  • The Bulldogs tied their season high with 12 steals. They have registered double-digit steals in nine games this season, including eight of their last 10.
  • LA Tech tallied eight blocks in the game, tying its season high.
  • Cobe Williams led the way offensively with a game-high 17 points. He has scored 16+ points 12 times this season.
  • Quandre Bullock tied his career high with 12 points.
  • Keaston Willis recorded 10 points, including two made three-pointers. He now has 40 three-pointers on the season and has made at least two triples in 68 career games.
  • Cobe Williams added two more steals to his season total, giving him 38. It marked the ninth time this season he has had multiple steals in a single game.
  • Kenny Hunter registered a career-high four blocks. It is the most blocks by a Bulldog since Kenneth Lofton, Jr. had four against Jarvis Christian in 2021.

UP NEXT
LA Tech returns to the Lone Star State on Wednesday, Jan. 11 to battle North Texas in the Super Pit.  Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT and will be live streamed on ESPN+.