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Bulldogs shock the Shockers

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Photographs by The Associated Press

WICHITA, Kansas -- Louisiana Tech made a statement on Tuesday for the team's first road win of the season against a quality opponent in Wichita State.

The Bulldogs (1-0) earned six of their seven Conference USA wins during the 2017-18 season on their home court at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston, La. They were just 1-10 on the road.

Amorie Archibald hit six straight free throws in the final minute Tuesday at the Charles Koch Arena in Wichita to secure a 71-58 road win against the Shockers (0-1). The loss snapped a 22-game winning streak in home openers for Wichita State, which had won 72 of its last 75 games at home until Tuesday.

The visitors were aggressive throughout the night, outrebounding the Shockers, 37-26. Bulldog players fought and dove for loose balls, took charges and executed their game plans to hand the Shockers their worst non-conference home loss in more than 10 years.

"I want to give a lot of credit to coach (Gregg) Marshall and the Wichita State team," said Wichita State head coach Eric Konkol. "We knew we were going to play a very hard-playing team and we certainly got that tonight. We fought a lot of adversity to come away with this win. I thought our guys executed in the times when we needed it.

"This is a huge win for us. It is something that we have talked about all summer long. We knew we were going to start the season off and get a really good idea of where we are at this moment. There is no doubt, coming away with a win here is big."

Wichita controlled the game early in front of more than 10,000 home fans. Louisiana Tech persevered with the team's motto, "Tougher, Together."

The Bulldogs shot just 4-for-13 from the field in the first 10 minutes without making a shot from the outside. Markis McDuffie hit a 3-pointer to give Wichita a 15-11 advantage with 10:11 on the clock in the first half.

The game seemed to turn after sophomore Exavian Christon, of Hot Springs, drilled a 3-pointer from the wing in transition to spark an 12-0 run that forced a timeout by Marshall.

Louisiana Tech increased its lead to as many as 14 points with three minutes remaining when sophomore Amorie Archibald found Christon on a backdoor cut and Christon slammed it home. The team shot 10-for-15 in the second half of the opening half behind 10 points from junior DaQuan Bracey.

Wichita was able to trim the deficit down to 10 points. Freshman Erik Stevenson hit a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left in the first half to make the score 39-29 at the break.

The Shockers were able to find some rhythm on offense in the early going of the second half. Stevenson came off of the bench and knocked down back-to-back triples and Jaime Echenique hit a pair of free throws to help pull them with four points at 47-43 with 12:33 to go. Junior Oliver Powell led the Bulldogs' response.

Powell grabbed an offensive rebound and deposited the and-one on the putback. The Bulldogs scored eight straight points to take a 55-43 lead on another 3-pointer by Christon with 10 minutes remaining.

The Shockers remained in the game. A bucket made by Amajae Haynes-Jones forced a timeout by the Bulldogs with a 59-52 lead and five minutes left to play. They further cut the league to five points at 63-58 with 1:19 on the clock.

Bracey went down hard soon thereafter and was forced to leave the game. Archibald was fouled a second later to start his string of six straight points from the foul line, including four in the final minute to push the lead to 69-58.

Wichita missed four 3-pointers in the final 67 seconds. The final was set after Archibald found junior Mubarak Muhammed for a dunk.

Stevenson led the Shockers with 16 points in his debut, making 4 of 6 3-pointers. Fellow freshman Dexter Dennis added 10 points, while Echenique pulled down a team-best seven rebounds.

Wichita shot just 37 percent from the field at 20-for-54. The Shockers also struggled from deep, making just 7 of 25 3-point attempts and at the free throw line, making just 11 of 26 attempts for 42 percent.

The Shockers graduated nine seniors from their top nine players from last season. Their leading scorer, redshirt sophomore Landry Shamet, was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. McDuffie was the only returning player from the rotation after shooting specialist Austin Reaves opted to transfer to Oklahoma.

Reaves scored 163 points in four games through the 2016 Class 3A state tournament at Jessieville and Bank OZK Arena. He scored 43 points in the final for Cedar Ridge to defeat Charleston. Reaves shot better than 50 percent from 3-point as a freshman, but he only averaged 4.1 points in 11.8 minutes minutes per game as a freshman.

His numbers increased to 8.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, two assists and 45 percent from the field with 82.7 percent on free throws and 42.5 percent on 3-pointers in 21.5 minutes per game. Reaves will have two years of eligibility at Oklahoma.

Louisiana Tech shot 44 percent from the field on 22-for-50 shooting, but shot just 25 percent on 4-for-16 shooting from distance. The Bulldogs finished 23 of 34 for 68 percent shooting at the free throw line.

Bracey paced the Bulldogs with 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Archibald netted 14 points, including 7-for-8 shooting on free throws, and he grabbed a career-high and game-high nine rebounds.

Christon's 31 minutes led the team. He was 4-for-7 shooting with 2-for-3 from 3-point and 2-for-3 at the free throw line. He also grabbed four rebounds, made one steal and made one assists.

Muhammed was the final Bulldog in double figures with 10 points and four rebounds. Powell added six points and seven rebounds.

Next up is a 4 p.m. home game on Sunday against Sam Houston State (1-0) on Karl Malone Court inside the Thomas Assembly Center. The Bearkats won their season-opener Tuesday, 85-64, over East Texas Baptist, a member of the American Southwest Conference in NCAA Division III.

Sports on 11/08/2018

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