Louisiana Tech Basketball defeats North Texas to play for Conference USA Championship

Louisiana Tech hasn’t won a conference basketball tournament since winning the Southern United States Championship in 1991. Thirty-one years later, the Bulldogs have a shot at winning the tournament title. Conference USA and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Third-seeded Louisiana Tech defeated first-seeded North Texas 42-36 in the semifinals in Frisco, Texas on Friday. Sophomores Keaston Willis and Cobe Williams led the Bulldogs with 12 points.

The Bulldogs (24-9) will face the winner of 1-seeded Middle Tennessee and 3-seeded UAB in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS Sports Network.

USA CONFERENCE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT:2022 Conference USA Basketball Tournament support, schedule, game times, results, TV info

US CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS:Louisiana Tech vs. North Texas Basketball Video Highlights, CUSA 2022 Tournament Score

Louisiana Tech goes 13-0

Louisiana Tech trailed North Texas 10-2 with 8:39 left in the first half, and then the offense came to life. Louisiana Tech went 13-0, including two 3-pointers from Willis, to take a 15-10 lead with 4:49 remaining. The Bulldogs shot 1 of 12 from the field before the run.

North Texas has one of the best defenses in the nation, but was outscored 19-3 in the final 8:39 of the first half. Louisiana Tech held a 21-13 halftime lead with leading scorer Kenneth Lofton Jr. held to three points.

March 11, 2022;  Frisco, TX, USA;  Louisiana Tech Bulldogs forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. (2) blocks a shot by North Texas Mean Green forward Abou Ousmane (33) during the second half of the USA Conference Tournament menÕs basketball semifinals at Ford Center at the 'star.  Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

North Texas offense falters, despite stellar defense

Louisiana Tech was held scoreless with 15:43 remaining in the first half when the first media timeout was called. However, North Texas only managed to get 1 of 6 out of the field during that span and it ultimately cost them a trip to the title match.

Five seconds after the timeout, the Bulldogs scored.

North Texas led the nation in holding opponents to 55.4 points per game going into Friday’s game. Mean Green’s defensive dominance continued. The Bulldogs shot 38% from the field with eight turnovers. However, North Texas couldn’t score.

The Mean Green shot 14% from the field in the first half and missed 11 of their last 12 field goal attempts and that continued into the second half. In the end, North Texas shot 24.1 percent from the field and 2 of 10 from the 3-point line. Thomas Bell had a team-high 10 points.

Louisiana Tech guards Cobe Williams (24) and Keaston Willis (0) celebrate during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Texas in the Conference USA Tournament Semifinals in Frisco, Texas on Friday, March 11, 2022. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

LOUISIANA TECH WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:Louisiana Tech women’s basketball wins Conference USA West title

LOUSIANA TECHNOLOGY FOOTBALL:Louisiana Tech Football Hires Incarnate Word’s Casey Walker as Defensive Line Coach

Lofton Jr. delivers at the end

Lofton led Louisiana Tech in scoring in both regular season matchups against North Texas. However, the Bulldogs have been swept by the defending conference champions this season.

None of that mattered with Lofton at the free throw line with 50 seconds left. The sophomore made two free throws to increase the lead to 37-32, while the Bulldogs have missed 14 of their last 15 field goal attempts. He had two more free throws with 3.9 seconds left to seal the victory.

Lofton finished with nine points and 12 rebounds.

Comments are closed.