ULL’s Long records a double-double in loss to Middle Tennessee
LAFAYETTE, La. – Louisiana-Lafayette freshman forward Shawn Long scored a game-high 17 points and snared 13 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as the Ragin’ Cajuns dropped their Sun Belt Conference opener to Middle Tennessee, 72-58, Thursday evening at the Cajundome.
The double-double was Long’s third this season and the 13 rebounds matched his career high that he first recorded earlier this season at Texas Southern.
Long was one of four Ragin’ Cajuns to finish in double figures with Steven Wronkoski contributing 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Bryant Mbamalu and Elfrid Payton scored 11 points, respectively, for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Middle Tennessee shot 41.7 percent (25-of-60) from the floor and outscored Louisiana (2-5, 0-1 Sun Belt), 36-3, from the bench. James Gallman paced Middle Tennessee (5-1, 1-0 Sun Belt), scoring 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
In a game that went back-and-forth for a majority of the first half, Raymond Cintron hit a three pointer at the 6:32 mark to spark an 11-5 Blue Raiders run that created a 36-25 advantage.
Mbamalu drilled a 15-footer from the right wing to put an end to the run with 1:33 left in the half, and Matt Moss hit a triple as time expired, cutting the Blue Raiders lead to 38-32.
The Ragin’ Cajuns used a balanced attack as three different players contributed nine points in the first 20 minutes of action.
The Cajuns stormed out of the locker room, outscoring the Blue Raiders 10-4 during the first five minutes to tie the game at 42 with 15:59 remaining.
However, Middle Tennessee’s defense caused fits for the Cajuns, forcing Louisiana to miss its next four shots as the Blue Raiders went on to score five unanswered points to build a 47-42 lead.
The Cajuns jumped in front 48-47 at the 11:20 mark on a jumper by Long; however, the Blue Raiders went on a 17-3 run to jump out to a 64-51 lead with 3:58 to play
The Blue Raiders coasted down the stretch en route to the Sun Belt-opening victory. Thursday’s game marked the first time that ULL and Middle Tennessee met in a Sun Belt Conference opener.
The Cajuns were outrebounded in the loss 40-31, including a 14-7 disadvantage on the offensive glass.
Louisiana connected on just 4-of-17 three-pointers.
The Ragin’ Cajuns travel to Denton, Texas, Saturday for a 7 p.m. Sun Belt Conference contest against North Texas.
It will mark the final Sun Belt contest at the Super Pit against the Mean Green, who depart for Conference USA following this season.