Home » Men’s college basketball: Bulldogs show poise, depth in win over McNeese

Men’s college basketball: Bulldogs show poise, depth in win over McNeese

by Russell Hedges

Louisiana Tech Athletic Communications

RUSTON — Louisiana Tech’s two leading scorers, Isaiah Crawford and Jaylin Henderson, were held to a combined seven points.

No matter as the Bulldogs showcased their depth with four players scoring in double figures, led by Daniel Batcho who had 17 points in gutting out a hard-fought 71-62 win over McNeese State on Wednesday afternoon inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

Batcho made his presence felt on the defensive end as well, pulling down eight rebounds while swatting away four basketballs. Stepping up offensively was help from the perimeter as Tahlik Chavez(14), Tyler Henry (14), and Sean Newman Jr.(11) all contributed. 

Much of the points from the backcourt came from beyond the arc as LA Tech (4-1) buried 10 three-pointers, a day after it shot just 12 total threes against Southern Utah. 

The triples were raining early too, but McNeese State (5-2) never let the home team pull away. In fact, the Cowboys used a quick 8-0 run to take an 18-15 lead with 11:16 to go. After a string of three ties (there were five total), they held a slim 27-25 edge with less than six minutes until halftime. 

LA Tech cranked up its D for the remainder of the stanza, allowing just one made field goal. Meanwhile, they closed the half on a 10-2 run that included back-to-back threes by Henry, making it 35-29 in favor of the ‘Dogs.

The Bulldogs took their largest lead at 48-37 with 12:33 to play after three made free throws by Crawford. However, the Cowboys went on a 9-1 run to slice the deficit down to three. Newman Jr. then led an 8-0 run for LA Tech, feeding Batcho on an alley-oop dunk for one of his seven assists while also getting a scoop-and-score layup.

McNeese battled back, again, making it a two-point game at 62-60 with 3:44 still to go when Shahada Wells made a highly contested layup on a fastbreak. But a poised Bulldog squad closed out the game on a 9-2 run, allowing zero made FGs by the Cowboys the rest of the way while knocking down free throw after free throw (went 23-of-29 from the foul line for the game).

LA Tech extended its winning streak to four games despite shooting a season-low 40.4 percent from the field (19-of-47). While the steady Crawford had only seven points, he contributed in many other ways – four rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks.  

McNeese shot 44.6 percent from the field, also getting double-figure scoring from four guys. Christian Shumate had a team-high 15 points while Wells, Javohn Garcia, and Cameron Jones each had 11.

QUOTABLES
Head coach Talvin Hester

Opening statement …
“I am proud of our guys. I thought it was a tough game. I really contribute some of the scheduling to it. Coach McGraw and the others convinced me we should challenge ourselves early. To be able to play a tough one in the opener at Colorado State, it helped prepare us for today and I am glad we did that. We have made practice hard so that these moments can be manageable for us. I am proud of everyone on this team. We were locked in.”

On the non-conference stretch so far …
“This shows to our growth. We have gotten better. Our goal is to keep getting better every day. We want to grow and learn every day, push ourselves in practice. If we can be great in practice, these moments will come. Practice is where you prepare for these moments.”

On the team unity …
“This is a great group of guys. When you look at a guy like Will Allen and Daniel Batcho comes in, makes an immediate impact and your minutes get cut and you cheer for him. It talks about who we are as a team. When you look at Jordan Crawfordwho played yesterday, but did not see a lot of minutes today. He is out there coaching the guys through the press break at the end of the game. We celebrate each other. They play hard for each other.”

On four players in double figures …
“For Isaiah and Jaylin, our two leading scorers, to score seven combined points, and we come out on top it shows to the depth that we could have. Now we have to work on the word consistency so we can get that out of every guy on every night. If we can do, and keep defending like we have been, we will be a hard team to beat.”

On Sean Newman Jr. …
“That is who we recruited. We wanted to get a quarterback, someone to lead our team and who could play tough moments. I don’t think he came out the entire second half. At that point, he was in a groove and getting us organized. He was making the right plays. We are glad we have him.”

Guard Tyler Henry

On the tough battle with McNeese …
“That is a tough team. They played until the very end. We thought we had them beat, but they came back. As expected. We knew it was going to be tough coming in.”

On the emotion of the win …
“It meant a lot. It was emphasized. McNeese is in Louisiana so this game was definitely marked on our calendar. We want to protect our home floor and the fans came out and supported us.”

On winning with outside shooting …
“Our coaching staff spends hours going over film. They said we would have a lot of three-point opportunities, we just needed to hit shots. We focused on getting up a lot of shots in practice this morning.”

NOTABLES

  • With the win, LA Tech now leads the all-time series over McNeese State, 56-39. The Bulldogs improved to 16-1 all-time against the Cowboys in the Thomas Assembly Center, extending their home winning streak to 13.
  • LA Tech improved to 4-1 on the season. This is now the 10th time in the last 12 seasons that the Bulldogs have opened the year with at least four wins through the first five games.
  • The Bulldogs have won four straight games, making this the 16th straight season that the program has had at least a four-game winning streak.
  • LA Tech hit 10 three-pointers, marking the second time this season with double-digit threes.
  • LA Tech connected on 23 made free throws, the most this season and the most since Jan. 11, 2023 at North Texas.
  • LA Tech improved to 33-6 in MTE games since the 2012-13 season.
  • Through five games, the Bulldogs have trailed for only 15 minutes and two seconds.
  • Tahlik Chavez registered a season-high 14 points, burying three three-pointers. He now has 296 career three-pointers as a collegiate basketball player.
  • Tyler Henry tallied a season-high 14 points, knocking down four triples. He came in with 15 total points through the first four games.
  • Sean Newman Jr. tied his season high with seven assists. He has now dished out at least four dimes in all five games this season. He also pulled down a season-high five rebounds.
  • Isaiah Crawford recorded three steals, giving him 129 for his career (16th most all-time in program history). He has recorded at least one steal in eight straight games dating back to last season.
  • Daniel Batcho tallied a season-high four blocks.

UP NEXT
LA Tech will close out its three-game home stand on Saturday, Nov. 25 versus Dillard. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CT inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court and will be streamed live on ESPN+.

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