By Kane McGuire, Louisiana Tech Associate Athletic Director/Strategic Communications
RUSTON — Tahlik Chavez went off for a season-high 30 points as Louisiana Tech held off UL-Lafayette for a 72-67 victory on Saturday afternoon inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.
It was a tale of two halves as LA Tech (8-2) raced out to a 42-23 lead at halftime. However, ULL (5-4) flipped the script and went on a pair of runs to get its deficit down to single digits, but the Bulldogs prevailed to remain unbeaten at home.
The Ragin’ Cajuns held a slim 12-11 lead about six minutes deep into the game. But the remaining 14 minutes of the first half was all ‘Dogs.
LA Tech’s Tyler Henry scored seven straight points to ignite a 15-2 run that culminated into a 29-16 advantage. The Bulldogs continued to lock down the Cajuns on defense, and then get to the foul line on offense where they sank 19 of their 23 attempts.
Ultimately, a made a jumper by Chavez with six seconds left gave the home team a comfortable 19-point lead going into the locker room.
That lead got to as high as 21 (46-25), but ULL amped up the pressure and started to force turnovers. They then turned those extra possessions into points, going on a 13-2 run to get the deficit down to 10 at 48-38.
A three-pointer by Themus Fulks made it 52-45 with 11:44 still to play. Chavez countered with a three-pointer of his own (went 4-of-8 from deep). He followed that with a driving layup and then Jaylin Henderson capped off a 7-0 spurt with a fastbreak slam.
Chavez would score nine of LA Tech’s last 12 points, and they needed every one of them. As good as the Bulldogs were from the charity stripe in the first half, a string of misses late kept the Ragin’ Cajuns in the game. The visitors were within two possessions with under a minute to play, but one made free throw each by Jordan Crawford and Chavez was enough for the ‘Dogs to hand the Cajuns a loss.
Daniel Batcho was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 14 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds as LA Tech shot 21-of-49 (42.9 percent) from the field and 24-of-37 (64.9 percent) from the free throw line, making just five of their 14 attempts in the second half.
ULL was led by Kobe Julien who had 26 points, 16 of which came in the second half when the Cajuns shot 60.7 percent after being held to just 32.1 percent in the first half. Joe Charles chipped in with 10.
Head coach Talvin Hester
Opening statement …
“It was a tale of two halves. We came out and really guarded. We played like we have been playing the last few games. We really defended. I expected them to come back. I told my staff and the players all week about the 15-point lead we had last year against them and how hard they played at the end to erase that lead. I wish we would have made free throws down the stretch to make it a little easier for ourselves, but we will take it any way we can lead it.”
On giving up the big lead …
“We came out relaxed. Against teams that are not so good, you can do that. Against teams that are fighters, they don’t stay down long. We just relaxed too much. Sometimes it is hard to get that motor back going once you let off the gas. We have to find ways to kick-start ourselves when that happens.”
On Tahlik Chavez …
“He has played at so many places, but I think this is becoming his home gym. He had to find his groove. Chance favors the aggressor and he played so hard on the defensive end. I knew it was a matter of time with the way he shoots the ball that they were going to start to go in. I am happy for him.”
On still winning with Sean Newman Jr. still out …
“We are resilient. We are tougher. I want to keep a chip on their shoulder. I want to keep them hungry and in the pursuit of the next game. They are showing it every game. I keep going back to how fun and lovable this group is. They are easy to cheer for and they represent Louisiana Tech in the right way.”
On the turnovers …
“We need more ball handling out there. We have been playing point guard by committee, letting Isaiah Crawford bring the ball up a little bit to relieve pressure. We are trying to find ways to get into our offense in other ways. We have to be tougher and stronger with the ball until we get our point guard back. Once Sean comes back, hopefully he can get right back into the groove of things.”
- With the win, LA Tech now leads the all-time series (on record), 92-77. The Bulldogs have won three straight at home over the Ragin’ Cajuns.
- The Bulldogs improved to 6-0 at home this season.
- LA Tech had 20 second chance points, one shy of tying its season high.
- LA Tech shot and made a season high in free throws, going 24-of-37 from the foul line.
- Tahlik Chavez scored a season-high 30 points. It is the most points scored by a Bulldog since Keaston Willisscored 30 against UTSA on Feb. 19, 2022.
- Tahlik Chavez became the 50th Bulldog in program history to score at least 30 points in a single game.
- Daniel Batcho scored 14 points. He now has scored in double figures in seven of his eight games played. He also had eight boards, anchoring the team in rebounds for a seventh time.
- Isaiah Crawford had a team-high six assists, giving him 202 for his career. He became the 23rd Bulldog in program history with at least 200 career assists.
- Isaiah Crawford tied his season high with four steals, giving 140 for his career which is tied for the 12th most in program history. He has now registered at least one steal in 13 consecutive games. It was also 11th time in his career he has had at least four steals in a single game.
- Isaiah Crawford also had two blocks, giving him 59 for his career which is tied or the 11th most in school history.
- Jaylin Henderson pulled down a season-high seven rebounds.
LA Tech takes on Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday, Dec. 12 in the TAC. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on ESPN+.