Long excels as Cajuns give MSU a scare
LAFAYETTE — Shawn Long scored a season-high 22 points to go along with 12 rebounds as the University of Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns surged in the second half to fight off a scrappy Southern-New Orleans squad, 76-66, at the Cajundome Wednesday evening.
For Long, a former Morgan City High star, it was his second double-double in the past three outings (20 points, 13 rebounds at Texas Southern). Louisiana collected its first 2-0 start at home since the 2003-04 season.
Louisiana (2-2) broke free from a halftime deficit (trailed 26-24) by reversing a rebounding deficit in the second stanza, outboarding the Knights (2-1) 24-15. The Cajuns also limited their turnovers — six in second half compared to 10 in opening half — and shot 55.9 percent (19-of-34) on the way to outscoring the visitors 52-40 in the final 20 minutes.
Three other Ragin’ Cajuns turned in double-digit efforts as Elridge Moore and Steven Wronkowski chipped in 12 points each and Elfrid Payton added 11 points to go along with seven assists.
The Knights used a strong effort from the bench, which produced 44 of the squad’s 66 points in keeping pace with the Cajuns. Anthony Turner (16 points) and Joshua Major (15 points) led SUNO’s efforts.
The meeting was the first between the two schools on the hardwood. Louisiana made it 2-for-2 against first-time opponents this season, adding Wednesday’s win to a win over Oakland (90-79 on Nov. 11).
Louisiana takes to the road Thanksgiving morning for a weekend trip that features games at New Mexico State (Friday) and Michigan State (Sunday).
The Cajuns’ next home game is Nov. 29 when it opens Sun Belt Conference play against Middle Tennessee.
In Wednesday’s game, the score went back and forth the entire first half with nine lead changes and five ties.
Louisiana’s advantage was 24-23, with 1:30 left in the half following a jumper by Moore, but Southern-New Orleans scored the final three points off an old fashioned three-point play to close the half and take a 26-24 lead into the break.
Southern-New Orleans knocked down a three-point basket to open the second half to increase its lead to five.
A six-point spurt by Payton led to a tie game at 34. Then the Cajuns later rolled off a 12-5 run to take control of the contest.
Louisiana clamped down on the Knights down the home stretch as Bryant Mbamalu scored back-to-back three point baskets to give the Cajuns a nine-point advantage at 60-51.
A possession later, Steven Wronkoski’s layup gave Louisiana the first double-digit lead of the night, 62-51.
Following a layup by Long, the Cajuns reached their largest lead of 13 points, 66-53, with 3:33 remaining.
Mbamalu, the lone Cajun player to hit a three pointer, connected on three of four tries in the contest.
UL was 29-of-62 from the field as a team, good for 46.8 percent in the contest.
Southern-New Orleans shot 36.9 percent after hitting 24-of-65 shots.