Cajuns Dominate Troy, 78-63; Run Winning Streak to Six
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns held Troy without a field goal over a seven minute stretch of the first half to open a nine point lead and never let the Trojans get closer than eight in the second half, as the Cajuns ran their winning streak to six games with a 78-63 win over the Trojans Thursday night at the Cajundome.
The Cajuns (18-9, 9-5 Sun Belt) trailed 18-13 at the 7:53 mark of the first half before going on an 18-1 run to build a lead they would never relinquish. After J. J. Davenport made one of two free throws, senior Bryant Mbamalu hit a pair of layups and freshman Hayward Register hit back to back three point shots to give the Cajuns a six point lead, 24-18 with 4:30 left until halftime. Xavian Rimmer then hit a triple and, after Troy's Antoine Myers made one of two free throws, Davenport hit a jumper and Elfrid Payton made a layup to run the Cajuns' lead to 31-19. Tevin Calhoun finally broke the dry spell with a three pointer with :04 left until intermission and the Cajuns took a 31-22 lead into the locker room.
The Cajuns built the lead despite second leading scorer Shawn Long being in foul trouble. The sophomore from Morgan City played just five minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls.
Long hit a baseline jumper just :20 into the second half. A Hunter Williams three pointer with 18:31 left got the Trojans within eight, but that was the last time the Cajuns would lead by single digits. Long scored on a three point play just eleven seconds later. Payton hit a layup and Long got a dunk to put the Cajuns up by 15, 42-27, and the Cajuns maintained a double digit lead the rest of the way, building the lead as high as seventeen points before settling for the final margin.
The Cajuns shot 59.4 percent (19-32) in the second half to finish with 54.4 percent (31-57) for the game.
Mbamalu had his third big game of the homestand, scoring fifteen of his season-high 21 points in the second half. The senior from Houston also added five rebounds and a game high four steals. Payton and Long each chipped in fifteen points with 13 of Long's points coming after intermission. Long narrowly missed a double double with nine rebounds. Payton added five rebounds and seven assists.
Mbamalu's effort gave him a total of 949 points in his Cajuns' career. He needs 51 points over the final games of the season to be the 42nd Cajun to reach the 1.000 point milestone.
Long blocked two shots, giving him 74 on the season, good for third best in Cajuns' history. Michael Southall has the top two totals with 97 and 93. Long also passed Graylin Warner into third place in blocks in a career, trailing Southall (258) and Reginald Poole (169).
The Cajuns defense held Troy (9-16, 4-9) to just 38.9 percent shooting including 7-24 (29.2%) from beyond the arc. Antoine Myers led the Trojans with 14 points while Kevin Thomas, Kelton Ford and Hunter Williams added eleven each. Williams, the Trojans' leading scorer, made just 4-13 shots in the game. Thomas added nine rebounds for the Trojans, who battled the Cajuns to a 35-35 stalemate on the boards.