FRISCO, Texas – When it’s postseason, Louisiana Tech can count on Kenneth Lofton Jr. more than ever.
The big forward sparked a decisive burst of 11 unanswered second-half points Wednesday night as the Bulldogs notched a 77-67 victory over Marshall to advance to the Conference USA Tournament quarterfinals.
With a five-point advantage at halftime, LA Tech (22-9) overcame a shaky stretch of turnovers, plus a near five-minute scoring drought, to shoot 62 percent in the second half and eliminate Marshall (12-21).
Up 44-36 after a made jumper by Amorie Archibald gave the Bulldogs their largest lead of the game thus far with 17:15 still to go in the game, the Herd took advantage of five turnovers and foul trouble by Kenneth Lofton, Jr. to go on a 7-0 run and slice the deficit down to one.
After the Thundering Herd drew within one point, Lofton subbed back in and immediately sparked an 11-0 run after connecting on back-to-back buckets. The run sent Tech up 55-43 with 10 minutes to go.
Lofton finished with a team-high 21 points and nine rebounds. Keaston Willis added 18 points.
LA Tech will take on the No. 2 East seed Western Kentucky tonight at 6.
MCNEESE 80, NORTHWESTERN STATE 77: The Cowboys blitzed the sloppy Demons early, cashing in turnovers and posting a 31-11 lead in the first 10 minutes to take control of the first-round Southland Conference Tournament matchup. McNeese (11-21) never let NSU closer than 11 points afterward while winning for only the third time in 13 outings, with all three over the Demons (9-23). Captain Shreve’s Kendal Coleman capped his freshman season with 14 points and 12 rebounds for Northwestern.
GRAMBLING: The sixth-seeded Tigers (11-19) aim for their third and most important win this year over rival Southern today at 2 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals at Birmingham.
GRAMBLING 62, ALABAMA A&M 54: At Birmingham, Justice Coleman scored 19 points as the Lady Tigers (14-16) advanced to a Friday semifinal in the SWAC Tournament.
LOUISIANA TECH: The Lady Techsters (19-10) carry the West Division crown into the Conference USA Tournament at Frisco, Texas, and a 1:30 matchup with UAB (16-14). The champs swept the Blazers this season 58-52 at UAB and 82-56 last Saturday in Ruston.
NORTHWESTERN STATE: The Lady Demons (12-13) square off today at 1:30 in Katy, Texas, against UNO in the quarterfinals of the Southland Conference Tournament. The teams each won on the other’s homecourt in the regular season.
LOUISIANA TECH 13, SOUTHEASTERN 1: A five-run first inning and beer sales at J.C. Love Field made for a happy night for the Bulldogs (8-5), who avenged a 4-3 loss last Wednesday at SLU (5-8). It was Tech’s third win in the last four outings.
ULM 6, NORTHWESTERN STATE 2: In Monroe, the Demons (3-9) dropped their eighth straight game and avoided a fourth-consecutive shutout with a two-run ninth. NSU left 11 runners on base. ULM (2-9) got a three-run homer from Landon Cato.
LSU 6, MCNEESE 3: Gavin Dugas and Jacob Berry homered and combined for five RBI to pace the sixth-ranked Tigers (10-3) to the victory over the visiting Cowboys (8-5). A three-run eighth boosted LSU up 6-1.
Photo courtesy LOUISIANA TECH