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RUSTON – Louisiana Tech men’s basketball head coach Eric Konkol and women’s basketball head coach Brooke Stoehr spoke with the media Tuesday. The Bulldogs and Lady Techsters both split their series with WKU and are set to take on UTSA this Friday and Saturday.

Head coach Eric Konkol

On the WKU series:

“I saw a team that really looked forward to competing and competed throughout. We fell a little bit short on Friday, but we were able to come away [with the win] on Saturday. One thing I saw after Friday’s game was not a ton of emotion other than knowing what we needed to do better the next night. You could sense real excitement to turn the page and get it done on Saturday. It wasn’t easy. Western Kentucky is a very good team. They are special in their building. We had to have a lot of things go our way to get that done. I thought we defended well and kept them off the foul line better in that second game. And we were able to come away with a win.”

On the nail-biting losses:

“I think when you lose a close game, you can immediately go back to some plays and some things you would like to improve and get better at. In our case this last weekend having lost a close one on Friday, we knew what we had to do and were excited about the opportunity to play the next night rather than waiting several days. We’ve got a lot of upperclassmen on this team. We’ve got some guys that are very competitive and love to play. They were excited this time about turning the page and getting another opportunity to play 24 hours later.”

On UTSA:

“UTSA still has Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace. These two guys have been in their program for a long time. They have combined for 4,000 career points. They are two guys that it feels like have been in this league forever. It starts with them and their ability to score and create, making difficult shots off the dribble and off the catch. Those guys are a very tough cover, but then they have also added some other pieces to their roster from Cedrick Alley Jr. and Eric Parrish, both Division I transfers. They also have [Jacob] Germany in the front court. They are a dangerous team. It feels like they are building more cohesion. They are coming off a very good win over North Texas. We are going to have to figure out how to defend them on the perimeter. They play very quick. On the other end, they’ll change up their defenses. A very good team coming into the Thomas Assembly Center. You will hear me say that a lot. I think our league is as deep as it has ever been.”

Head coach Brooke Stoehr

On the WKU series:

“I thought we defended well. Obviously, we got a split. We felt like we really should have gotten the one on Friday night and gotten the sweep. I wasn’t pleased with our effort on the boards on Friday night. I didn’t like our concentration in some of those areas, like not being aggressive against their zone. I thought we were passive there. We missed some early shots and some open shots which I think may have played into how we rebounded. We gave up 21 offensive rebounds. Going into the game, we really focused on protecting the paint and not playing behind in the post. I thought WKU got a number of catches. Their two bigs got double-digit rebounds. I thought the team really responded on Saturday, only gave up eight offensive boards in that game. I thought we got out in transition, especially in the third quarter. It really started with our defensive boards, limiting them to just one shot. We are giving ourselves a chance in every game because of how we are defending. We’ve just got to be able to put the ball in the basket, make some open shots. I think we are getting good shots and they understand that, it is just a matter of knocking those down.”

On their defense this season:

“In order to win at high level consistently, you have to be able to defend and rebound. Going into this season, that was a big concern for us after losing Grayson Bright on the boards. Where are those boards going to come from? I feel like Amber Dixon has done a great job with that. She is actually leading us in rebounds right now. Rebounding is just desire and want to and going to get the ball, making sure the other team doesn’t have it. Raizel [Guinto] had six and seven rebounds this weekend. I think if our guards can rebound, it allows us to push in transition and put some pressure on the opponent. I think the buy-in has been there for our players. They have really focused on we what are asking each other to do and how we are going to trust our teammates. I think they have really bought into that. Because of that, we are in every game. Defense and rebounding, it travels. You can take that with you, no matter where you are playing. This group has done a much better job of focusing on that and taking that to heart.”

On UTSA:

“UTSA is a dangerous place to play. It has always been a difficult place for us. We won there last year, but our two previous trips we lost on buzzer beaters. They have a really good guard in Mikayla Woods who played really well against us last year in Ruston. I think she is starting to really find her form. I think their key is [Adryana] Quezada. She is just a versatile player, averaging 15 [points] and 10 [rebounds] for them. She is extremely active on the boards, can score inside and out. She is a really tough matchup because she can put it on the floor and face up. And if you put a smaller guard on her, she is going to take you inside and score around the basket on you. We have to do a great job with our team defense and keeping them off the glass. They are averaging in conference play, against two teams I consider really good rebounding teams in Rice and North Texas, right at 15 offensive rebounds a game. It is going to be another game we have to really focus on our defensive rebounding, defend as a group. Offensively, we have to be sharp. They do a good job of mixing things up with their man and their zone. We have to be able to knock down some open shots. We need to be able to force some turnovers and push in transition to allow ourselves to get some easy baskets as well as getting to the free throw line.”

This article originally ran on ktbs.com.

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