Home » Men’s college basketball: Louisiana Tech falls to Middle Tennessee in CUSA tournament

Men’s college basketball: Louisiana Tech falls to Middle Tennessee in CUSA tournament

by Russell Hedges

By Kane McGuire, Louisiana Tech Associate Athletic Director/Strategic Communications

Louisiana Tech was unable to defeat Middle Tennessee for a third time this season, falling by a score of 70-67 on Wednesday night in the CUSA Men’s Basketball Championship quarterfinals at VBC Propst Arena.

LA Tech (22-10) owned the paint again against Middle Tennessee (14-18), owning a +8 rebounding margin with 15 second chance points and scoring 36 paint points. However, the damage done by the Blue Raiders from the three-point line with nine triples and at the free throw line where they went 19-of-22 was too much to overcome.

The Bulldogs led for the entire first half, building as much as an 8-point lead when Daniel Batcho threw down a ferocious dunk to make it 25-17 with 6:15 to go in the stanza. The Blue Raiders gradually cut their deficit down to two, but Isaiah Crawford’sthree gave LA Tech a 32-27 halftime advantage.

After holding Middle Tennessee to just 29 percent shooting in the first half, the Blue Raiders found their offensive groove in the second half. They eventually took their first lead after Jared Coleman-Jones sank three free throws after getting fouled shooting beyond the arc.

LA Tech would quickly tie it with a free throw by Tahlik Chavez, making it 41-41. Tied again at 43-43, Middle Tennessee would extend its lead with threes and free throws to 51-59 with 9:02 remaining.

Batcho would deliver with back-to-back dunks as well as an old-fashioned three-point play to pull the Bulldogs to within two just under five minutes left in the game. That and-one by the forward at the 4:50 mark was the last field goal LA Tech would make, missing its last six attempts.

The Bulldogs had a handful of chances to tie or take the lead, but either missed shots or turnovers proved costly. They ultimately had one last attempt to tie the game and force overtime, but Crawford’s contested three was no good.

Batcho tied his career high with 24 points to go along with 11 boards. Crawford also notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Chavez was the third Bulldog in double figures with 17 points as the team shot just 39.7 percent from the field.

Jestin Porter led the charge for the Blue Raiders with 18 points, all coming in the second half. Coleman-Jones added a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

QUOTABLES
Head coach Talvin Hester

Opening statement …
“We had a special group this year. No matter how this ended, this was one of my favorite years of coaching. I felt like we left it on the floor. We battled, competed until the end. We lost to a good basketball team. Their length and athleticism bothered us. We fell short, but it does not take away from what these players did for our program this season.”

On the season as a whole …
“Guys get new life in March. I wish we could have made more free throws and capitalized on some of the transition opportunities late, but we did not. It does not take away from the fight this team had. I do not think you can judge this team by the way it ended, you should judge them by the full body of work.”

Guard Tahlik Chavez

On his season at LA Tech …
“I appreciate coach Hester for bringing me onto this team. It was one of the best seasons I have ever had. It was one of the closest teams I have ever been on. I loved going through hard practices with each other and having each other’s back.”

Forward Daniel Batcho

On his performance …
“I was just trying to go hard on every play. I really grew up this season. I really love this team.”

NOTABLES

  • With the loss, LA Tech now leads the all-time series versus Middle Tennessee, 15-8.
  • LA Tech outrebounded Middle Tennessee, 41-33. It marked the 24th time this season the Bulldogs had more rebounds than their opponent. It was the 14th time pulling down 40+ boards.
  • Daniel Batcho registered his 11th double-double of the season, tying his career high with 24 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
  • Isaiah Crawford posted his fifth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 boards. It marked the second time this season Crawford and Batcho each tallied a double-double in the same game.
  • Isaiah Crawford became the 18th player in program history to reach 1,500 career points. He also became the 20th player in program history to reach 600 career rebounds. 
  • Tahlik Chavez recorded 17 points, scoring in double figures for the 10th straight game. He made two three-pointers, giving him 80 on the season which is tied for the fifth most in program history.
  • Sean Newman Jr. dished out a game-high five assists, marking the 19th time this season with at least five in a single game. He now has 146 total assists on the season.
  • Daniel Batcho tallied three blocks, marking the 14th time this season with at least three rejections in a single game. He now has 67 total blocks this season.

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