Cajuns’ Three Point Barrage Buries Coastal Carolina, 108-101
Louisiana head basketball coach Bob Marlin has been saying there would be a night when the Cajuns' shooters would have a big night.
They couldn't have picked a better time.
Louisiana tied a school record with 16 three point baskets and the Cajuns roared back from a 16 point first half deficit to defeat Coastal Carolina 108-101 at the Cajundome Tuesday night, earning the Cajuns a home game in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournament beginning Saturday.
The Cajuns (13-18, 8-12 Sun Belt) scorched the nets for eight triples in each half as Louisiana tallied 69 points in the second half alone after trailing 49-39 at the half.
It is the seventh time this season the Cajuns have come back from a double digit deficit to win.
Cedric Russell scored a season high 28 points, hitting 8-20 shots from the field and 9-10 from the free throw line. P. J. Hardy, one of two seniors honored before the game, matched his career high with 24 points on 8-14 shooting, including 5-10 from beyond the arc. Jalen Johnson hit a trio of triples and scored 19 points, while Dou Gueye notched a double double with 12 points and eleven rebounds. Mylik Wilson had ten points, while Kristian Lafayette hit a pair from the bonusphere and wound up with seven points. Trajan Wesley and senior Mason Aucoin also hit three pointers in the contest.
Coastal Carolina (15-16, 8-12) also put five players in double figures as Malik Legania scored a career high 24 points. Tommy Burton notched a double double with 19 points and ten boards, Garrick Green hit five triples and wound up with 17 points, while DeVante Jones scored 12 points and Tyrell Gumbs-Frater came off the bench and scored eleven. Coastal was 12-23 from beyond the arc in the contest.
The Chanticleers scored the game's first seven points before Aucoin's triple from the corner got the Cajuns on the board. Coastal hit four from beyond the arc in the game's first five and a half minutes in opening a 22-9 lead. Hardy and Russell hit triples and Russell's field goal inside cut the lead to six, 25-19. Hardy and WIlson scored in the paint to cut the lead to four at the eight minute mark, but Gumbs-Frater hit a pair of threes to get the lead back to double digits. Johnson's three pointer made it 39-32 with 2:51 to play in the first half, but Jones hit a pair of free throws, Green popped a three, Legania scored on a traditional three point play and afrer a free throw, Jones hit a bucked to cap a 10-1 run, giving Coastal its biggest lead, 49-33 before Russell scored the last six points of the half.
The Cajuns outscored Coastal 18-11 in the first 4:18 of the second half to cut the lead to 60-56 and the Cajuns finally drew even at 66 on a Gueye free throw with 11:31 to go. Hardy's triple just 24 seconds later gave the Cajuns the lead for good. The lead stayed between four and eight points for a good part of the second half. A pair of Russell Free throws with 4:51 to play got the Cajuns a double digit lead and Louisiana enjoyed its biggest lead of the game on a Dou Gueye layup with 3:54 to go, 94-82. Coastal drew to within five on three different occasions in the final minute, but the Cajuns made their free throws to keep the final margin.
Hardy scored 16 of his points in the second half, while Russell tallied 14, Johnson 13 and Gueye 11. Gueye also had eight of his eleven rebounds in the second half to go along with three assists and a steal with no turnovers. Wilson tallied eight assists for the game, a career high for the freshman. He also notched five steals.
Louisiana is the #8 seed for the Conference Tournament and will host #9 Arkansas State Saturday morning at 11:00 am.