FRISCO, TX — The stands are filled with Tech blue. They nearly saw another poor “road” performance from their Bulldogs but instead they were treated to an incredible comeback.
FAU jumped out to an early lead and led 34-20 at the half after Xavian Stapleton hit a buzzer-beating three to end the half. Lousisiana Tech had nothing but DaQuan Bracey’s relentless attacks and eventually, Anthony Duruji joined in in the second half.
FAU was able to play their game throughout, but even when they were doing well they could not pull away by too much. The 14 points at half came right when they had a little more momentum.
That worked in Tech’s favor, as they came out in the second half renewed and with a new plan. Amorie Archibald attacked rather than take jumpers that were not leaving his hand well.
Bracey continued his attacks. Mostly, however, Tech found their defense. The relentless pressure on the ball made FAU think about their possessions more and Anthony Adger had to try to find shooters instead of create things for himself.
That was epitomized by an early shot-clock violation — FAU’s Michael Forrest was forced into an air-ball against pressure.
At the 15-min mark Mubarak Muhammed got the crowd standing with a put back off a free throw. Tech could not shoot but their aggression meant they were getting FTs.
They shot better following good defense — something every old coach will preach – and the comeback was on. It was not a full-on, crowd-igniting kind of comeback, but a slow, grinding one. Probably perfect considering the teams.
The finish was decided by clutch free throws instead of through big buckets although DaQuan Bracey’s steal + layup to tie it all at 55 was exciting. Both teams were challenging everything but Tech was forcing turnovers and getting to the line.
FAU had a shot to win it late — Xavian Stapleton, who played incredibly well with 17 points 5 rebounds on 6/12 sooting and 3/7 from distance, missed an open look from the top of the key.
FAU rebounded and Karlis Silins, who had missed some early layups but played well overall — 13 points 2 rebound 2 blocks — went to the line with a chance to tie. The one-handed put-back attempt rattled out of the rim and Tech rebounded as the buzzer sounded.
DaQuan Bracey chest-bumped whoever was willing to meet him in the air. Tech will face 1-seeded ODU tomorrow.
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