RUSTON – The frontcourt of the Louisiana Tech men’s basketball team proved too much for Harding on Tuesday night, doubling up the opponent on rebounds and scoring at will in the paint in what led to an 89-58 victory for the Bulldogs inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.
LA Tech (3-0) made it three straight wins to start the season for the third time in the last four years. In doing so, the ‘Dogs outrebounded the Bison, 46-23, and scored 54 paint points in the process.
Junior Mubarak Muhammed played a key role in both of those categories, coming off the bench to rack up a career-high 17 points to go along with eight bounds in just 17 minutes of action. Fellow forward, sophomore Anthony Duruji, dropped in a season-high 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
“We were slow early and gave them some open looks and they got into a rhythm,” head coach Eric Konkol said. I didn’t think we executed well on offense, but we settled into the game. I thought the offensive rebounds really helped us get some putbacks, helped the basket feel a little bit bigger. Then our defensive intensity really ramped up and that helped our offense throughout the rest of the game.
“Rebounding the basketball has been a huge emphasis for us. We continue to deliver with that. It gives us opportunities to get more chances at the rim. I thought there were a lot of guys that played tonight that had good pursuits at the basketball and really provided a real lift. It is an energy-type play and we have to keep that going.”
It was a sluggish start for the Bulldogs as Harding (0-3) got a jumper from Reggie Anthony to cut the deficit to one at 9-8 with 15:42 left in the first half.
The Bison continued to hang in there in the first half, only down five at the midpoint. However, junior Ra’Shawn Langston provided an offensive spark off the bench by drilling a three-pointer and converting an old-fashioned three-point play to help the ‘Dogs go on a 13-0 run.
The lead continued to climb in the first stanza, ending at 51-26 in favor of LA Tech going into the locker room. And the lead climbed more to start the second stanza thanks to Duruji who scored the first nine points for the Bulldogs on a triple, two layups and a vicious, one-handed slam to double up the Bison at 60-30 with 16:12 still left to play.
Several guys so action and contributed as nine players played at least 16 minutes of action. For the night, the Bulldogs shot 52 percent from the field (37-of-71) while connecting on only six three-pointers.
Joining Muhammed and Duruji in double figures were Langston (season-high 11), sophomore JaColby Pemberton (10) and sophomore Exavian Christon (10).
“We have some depth,” Konkol said. “We have some guys that are experienced and are playing multiple positions. We threw multiple lineups out there that we have had before, but not often in games. It was good to see multiple guys in different situations play well.”
Harding was 21-of-51 from the field (41 percent) and 9-of-23 from beyond the arc (39 percent). The Bison had two players score double-digit points with Gabriel Divic notching a team-high 17 points.
LA Tech will now hit the road, heading down south to take on No. 22 LSU in Baton Rouge on Friday, Nov. 16. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on SECN+.
For all the latest on Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB) or visit the official website at LATechSports.com.
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