The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns trailed for the majority of the second half but the team grabbed the lead when it mattered the most.
Louisiana overcame a 11-point second-half deficit as senior Cedric Russell scored a game-high 26 points in a 76-74 victory.
The win was Ragin’ Cajuns coach Bob Marlin’s 118th win in Sun Belt Conference play, the most by any coach in league history.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Duo Gueye hit a long jumper to put the Ragin’ Cajuns on the scoreboard first. UTA responded with an alleyoop dunk by Kaodirichi Akobunda-Ehiogu. The two teams would battle back-and-forth for the remainder of the first half.
The Mavericks built up a five-point lead only to have the Ragin’ Cajuns retake the lead with a quick 6-0 run. After a three-pointer by Cedric Russell and then two free throws by Isaiah Richards, the Ragin’ Cajuns led 21-16 with 11:19 left in the half.
UTA responded and neither team would lead more than five points in the final 11 minutes of the first half. The Mavericks would take the lead into the break after Shahada Wells drained a three-pointer with 58 seconds left in the half.
The Ragin’ Cajuns started off the second half strong as Akwuba hit a pair of free throws, Gueye made a second-chance layup and then made the ensuing free throw to take a one-point lead. That would be the final lead the Cajuns had for a long stretch.
UTA went on a 8-0 run and maintained its lead and extended to 11 points when Akobunda-Ehiogu completed a three-point play. With less than 12 minutes to go, the Ragin’ Cajuns trailed by 11 points.
The Ragin’ Cajuns cut the deficit down to three points with an 8-0 run which saw Kentrell Garnett hit a three-pointer, a layup by Russell and then a three-pointer by Russell.
UTA answered and pushed its lead up to six points with 7:07 left in the game. Back-to-back buckets by Gueye made it a two-point game again
After the two teams traded made jumpers, the Ragin’ Cajuns took their first lead in 15 minutes when Russell drained a second-chance three-pointer.
With 4:15 left, the Ragin’ Cajuns led 68-67.
UTA’s Nicholas Elame made a second-chance jumper to retake the lead for the Mavericks.
After a Gueye free throw tied the game 69-69, the Mavericks went on a 5-0 run. Russell hit a three-pointer to make it 74-72. A few moments later, Akwuba’s putback tied the game at 74-74.
UTA’s next possession ended with Mylik Wilson blocking Shahada Wells’ shot near the baseline. The Ragin’ Cajuns took the ball down the court and Russell drew the foul in the paint, and promptly drained both free throws.
With 9.2 seconds left, Louisiana led 76-74.
UTA’s Wells couldn’t penetrate Louisiana’s post defense and his last-second layup missed the mark and the Ragin’ Cajuns would win the game
BIG NUMBER: 11
The Ragin’ Cajuns were down by 11 points with 13:05 remaining in Monday’s contest. Despite the double-digit deficit, Louisiana rallied back for the two-point victory on Senior Night.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: Cedric Russell & Duo Gueye
The Ragin’ Cajun seniors stepped up in a big way on Senior Night as the two combined for 44 points and 26 of those points came in the second half. Russell led all scorers with 26 points while Gueye had 18 points and 7 rebounds.
UP NEXT: Louisiana (15-7, 9-6 SBC) will wrap up the regular season this weekend with a two-game series at Little Rock. Friday’s game will tip at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday’s game will tip at 4 p.m.