The Louisiana men’s basketball team held off a furious late rally by UT Arlington in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Thursday. The Ragin’ Cajuns defeated the Mavericks 67-64 to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Patrick Mwamba put the Mavericks on the board first with a quick layup but the Ragin’ Cajuns responded by going on a 7-0 run as Brayan Au made a layup, Jalen Dalcourt drained a three-pointer and Greg Williams Jr. made a pair of free throws. That run gave Louisiana a lead and one the Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t not give up for the remainder of the first half.
Louisiana quickly built up a double-digit lead and then pushed it to 17 points after Durey Caldwell hit three-pointer with 6:44 left in the first half. UTA cut it back down to 12 points after a three-pointer and a pair of free throws by David Azore.
Louisiana responded with a Dalcourt three-pointer and then pushed it back up to 17 points a few minutes with another three by Dalcourt. The Mavericks would close out the half on a 8-0 run, with Azore scoring six of the points, and cut the Ragin’ Cajuns’ lead down to nine points at the break.
Louisiana held a 36-27 lead at halftime.
UTA came out fast in the second half as back-to-back buckets by Azore and Nicolas Elame made it a five-point game.
The Mavericks would cut the lead down to four twice in the next six-plus minutes but each time Dalcourt made a three-pointer.
Louisiana continued to maintain its lead and after a Dou Gueye fast break dunk, the Ragin’ Cajuns led by 14 with three minutes left.
UTA took advantage of Louisiana going more than two minutes without a field goal. The Mavericks stormed back by going on a 15-5 run and trimmed the lead all the way down to three points after Azore hit a three with two seconds remaining.
After a turnover by Louisiana, UTA had one final chance of tying the game but Azore’s three-point attempt hit the side of the backboard.
BIG NUMBER: 57
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns shot 57 percent from beyond the arc as the team made 8-of-14 from three-point range.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: JALEN DALCOURT
With Kobe Julien sidelined with an injury, Jalen Dalcourt stepped up in a big way scoring 16 points while making 5-of-6 from three-point range.
UP NEXT: No. 8 Louisiana (14-14) will take on No. 1 Texas State in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Tip is set for 11:30 a.m.