Louisiana Tech Athletic Communications
RUSTON — Louisiana Tech’s frontcourt was too much for Southern Utah as Isaiah Crawford tallied a team-high 18 points while Daniel Batcho added a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in leading the Bulldogs to a 67-53 victory over the Thunderbirds on Tuesday afternoon inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.
LA Tech’s (3-1) game plan coming in was to punish SUU (1-3) inside. That they did, outscoring the visitors, 36-22, in the paint. Their physicality also led to 24 free throw attempts, which the ‘Dogs sank 16 of them.
Aside from the Thunderbirds scoring the opening bucket of the game, the Bulldogs led for the remainder after going on a quick 8-0 run. Back-to-back three-pointers by Tahlik Chavez and Jaylin Henderson made it 16-7 with 12:53 to go in the first half, forcing a timeout by SUU.
LA Tech would make only one more three-pointer the rest of the contest. But, they rarely took shots from beyond the arc. Instead, they force-fed the basketball inside as much as possible.
Batcho’s alley-oop dunk made it 24-11 in favor of the home team, their largest lead of the first half. Ultimately, LA Tech would take a 35-25 advantage into the locker room at the midway point.
SUU hung around though, going on a 7-0 spurt to get the deficit down to 11 and force a timeout by head coach Talvin Hester with still 5:08 to play. However, LA Tech fed Batcho for a baby hook bucket coming out of the TO as the Bulldogs allowed just one made field goal the rest of the way.
LA Tech shot 47.1 percent from the field (24-51), getting double-digit efforts by Crawford and Batcho as well as Henderson who tallied 10 points, the fourth straight game of hitting double figures.
Batcho also added three blocks and two steals to his stat line, helping anchor a defense that limited SUU to a season-low 32.2 percent shooting (Thunderbirds came in averaging 88.0 points per game). Zion Young scored a game-high 19 points, but needed 21 shot attempts to do it.
Head coach Talvin Hester
Thoughts on the win …
“Southern Utah was a team scoring in the 80s and we wanted to slow them down. We wanted to punch them inside where we had the advantage. I thought we did a great job of limiting them of getting easy baskets at the rim. Batcho was unbelievable at the rim contesting and blocking shots. I am very proud of how we played defensively.”
On force-feeding Isaiah Crawford and Daniel Batcho …
“They were more guard oriented so we wanted to try to punish them inside as much as possible. I thought we had a mismatch on both ends. I did not want to take a bunch of threes and let them have runout opportunities. That is why we played a little more methodical.”
On the growth of the team so far this season …
“I think this group is unbelievable at spending time with each other. They love being around one another. When you can cheer for each other, to the buzzer they were cheering for each other. It is easy to play when you know everybody around is celebrating you. I love coaching them every day.”
On the final stretch …
“Tough teams know how to finish games. We were in control of the game, but we were not finishing it. I reminded them that with four minutes to go, it was still a basketball game. It was three or four possessions from them being right in it. All the credit to the team, they made the plays. They did their job. I just reminded them that we want to be able to put teams away.”
Forward Isaiah Crawford
On executing the game plan …
“The game plan was to score in the paint, be aggressive, attack the rim. We wanted to make sure we got as many paint touches as possible.”
On being more comfortable attacking the basket …
“I want to just be confident in myself and be patient, not try to force the issue too much.”
On what is has been like playing with Daniel Batcho …
“It has been great. It has made my job a lot easier. They tell me to just throw it in there and he will go make a play. It is a lot on the other team to try to stop him. WE know that from practicing with him every day. It has been great to see him do his thing.”
On consistency …
“I just have to cut down on turnovers. Other than that, I feel like I am getting the shots that I want. I just want to continue to let the game come to me and not force the issue.”
- With the win, LA Tech now leads the all-time series over Southern Utah, 2-0.
- This marked the 200th victory for the Bulldogs against non-conference opponents inside the Thomas Assembly Center.
- LA Tech improved to 32-6 in MTE games since the 2012-13 season. The Bulldogs are now a perfect 17-0 when playing at home as part of an MTE.
- Through four games, LA Tech has trailed for only 11 minutes and 51 seconds.
- Isaiah Crawford anchored the Bulldogs in scoring for a third straight game, scoring 18 points while going a perfect 6-of-6 from the field. He is the first LA Tech player to shoot 100 percent from the field with a minimum of six attempts since Andrew Gordon (Feb. 8, 2020 at Marshall).
- Sean Newman Jr. dished out a game-high four assists. The redshirt sophomore has posted at least four assists in all four games this season.
- Jaylin Henderson has scored in double figures all four games this season.
- Daniel Batcho pulled down 12 rebounds, the most by a Bulldog this season.
LA Tech is back in action tomorrow to face in-state foe McNeese State in the TAC. The matchup is set for 3 p.m. CT and will be streamed live on ESPN+.
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