UL Sports

Dec 8, 2012 11:33 PM by UL Sports Information

Cajuns Hot Start Not Enough In Loss to McNeese State 77-72

McNeese State won the turnover battle and received a 19-point boost from Adrian Fields off the bench on the way to a 77-72 victory here Saturday evening at Burton Coliseum that spoiled Louisiana's return from final exams break.

The Cowboys (4-3) played turnover free from the 12:04 mark of the first stanza until 5:46 remained in the contest. That, combined with a 50 percent showing from the floor in the second half, allowed McNeese to stage a comeback after trailing for all but 46 seconds of the first half.

Louisiana (3-6) surrendered 17 points off of 17 turnovers, shot 33 percent in the decisive second half and was outscored 21-4 off the bench.

The Cajuns were able to overcome the brief McNeese leads in the first half - never trailing more than 23 seconds on two occurrences - but after Desharick Guidry gave MSU a 37-36 lead with 15:19 remaining a string of three turnovers helped the hosts extend the lead to 42-36 and the visitors played catch up the rest of the night.

Despite trailing by 10 points on two different occasions the Cajuns fought back, cutting the deficit to three points at 71-68 on an Elfrid Payton layup with 1:11 left.

After two Cowboys free throws upped the lead to 73-68, the Cajuns came up short on four straight looks at the basket and Kevin Hardy nabbed the defensive rebound and raced in for a dunk at 17.7 seconds remaining.

"We allowed them to shoot 50 percent from the field in second half and didn't force any turnovers," head coach Bob Marlin mentioned. "We have to be able to pressure the ball better. We had 10 more turnovers than they did....that's 10 empty possessions for us offensively."

Four Cajuns scored double digits led by the trio of Shawn Long, Payton and Steven Wronkoski with 17 points each.

Wronkoski netted his career-high in points, surpassing a 16-point outing at New Mexico State, while Long added 17 rebounds to collect his fourth double-double of the season. Payton added 10 rebounds and dished out seven assists, once again flirting with a triple-double.

Louisiana ended the first half shooting 6-of-10 (60 percent) to stay in front of McNeese. However, the shots didn't fall in the second stanza as the Cajuns shot 11-of-33 (33 percent).

Fields finished as the game's top scorer in leading McNeese's efforts. Four Cowboys starters - Guidry (15), Dontae Cannon (14), Jeremie Mitchell (11) and Hardy (10) - reached double figures in points.

The Ragin' Cajuns return to action on Tuesday, Dec. 11 hosting Lamar at the Cajundome. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m.

The Cajuns trailed just twice in the opening stanza and each time the deficit was short-lived. UL trailed for a mere 23 seconds each time.

McNeese grabbed a 4-3 lead at 18:03 when Mitchell scored on a fastbreak after a Cajuns turnover. Long returned the lead to UL, then Bryant Mbamalu provided the final five points of a 7-0 run with a pair of freebies (16:36) and a triple (15:32).

Another seven-point spurt staked the Cajuns to a double figure lead at the midpoint of the half. Wronkoski's third trey of the stanza at 11:06 triggered the run which he capped off with an inside basket at 10:02 for a 20-10 edge.

Louisiana allowed McNeese back into the game by committing five turnovers following the under-eight media timeout. The Cowboys held the Cajuns to two field goals and converted five on a 10-2 run that trimmed the lead to 24-23.

"We got the big lead early and when I went to my bench, we gave up a dunk, missed a layup and turned it over several times," Marlin said. "We need to have more production from the bench than that."

Fields knocked down a jumper from the left corner at 1:48 for McNeese's second lead at 27-26. UL answered quick, getting back-to-back dunks, one from Payton and one from Thompson, to reclaim the lead 30-27 heading into the locker room.

Long opened the second half with a dunk and a 32-27 Cajuns lead. Louisiana was held without a field goal for the next four minutes and McNeese strung together three straight scoring possessions to grab a 35-34 lead by the 16:37 mark.

Long tapped in a Wronkoski miss at 15:49 to return the lead to the Cajuns momentarily as the Cowboys hot streak continued with a Guidry basket - the fourth straight possession with a basket.

After the Cowboys grabbed hold of a 42-36 lead, a Long three-point play and Mbamalu trey pulled the Cajuns within two points, 44-42, with 11:36 remaining.

McNeese stretched the lead back out with a 9-2 run that was completed with a Fields three-pointer with 9:29 remaining.

UL cut the deficit to five points, 53-48, following a Wronkoski bucket and Mbamalu putback after a missed free throw during the nine-minute mark. McNeese had an answer each time, keeping the lead at five points or more.

Louisiana's deficit grew to 62-52 after Fields, who scored 10 points in second half, connected on a trey at 7:37 and after a Cajuns turnover the hosts received a layup from Hardy at 7:03.

BANK SHOTS: Louisiana used the same starting lineup for the fifth straight game with Mbamalu, Payton and Wronkoski at guard and Long and Moore in the post...Saturday's contest marked the seventh meeting all-time between the two schools inside Burton Coliseum (first basketball season was1986-87)...McNeese's win gave the Cowboys a 4-3 edge in games played at Burton Coliseum and marked the Cajuns fourth straight loss to the Cowboys in Lake Charles...It was the Cajuns first game action in a week, the last outing occurring Saturday, Dec. 1 at North Texas (W, 80-76)...The game marked the first of five remaining non-conference games for the Cajuns and first of three straight against I-10 brethren (host Lamar on Tuesday, travel to Houston next Saturday)...Steven Wronkoski scored 13 of his career-high 17 points in the opening half, hitting 3-of-4 three-point field goal attempts...Louisiana led at halftime for the second time this season (led 30-27) and for the second time lost the contest (led 28-26 at half in loss at Boise State)...Shawn Long's 17 rebounds were a career-best, topping the 13 picked up against Texas Southern and Middle Tennessee...The Cajuns held a 44-32 advantage in rebounds, ending a string of four straight games being out-rebounded and posting the largest rebounding margin of the season...Shawn Long led the charge, topping the team with six offensive rebounds and 11 defensive rebounds...Elfrid Payton was a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe, tying his career-high in free throws made set against McNeese State last season at the Cajundome (also 8-for-8).

NEWSPAPER BOX SCORE

Louisiana vs McNeese State

12/8/12 7:00 at Lake Charles, La. (Burton Coliseum)

LOUISIANA (3-6) Long, Shawn 6-16 4-5 17; Payton, Elfrid 4-13 8-8 17; Wronkoski, Steven 5-10 4-7 17; Mbamalu, Bryant 4-10 4-4 14; Thompson, Alan-Micha 1-3 2-2 4; Moore, Elridge 1-3 1-2 3; Moss, Matthew 0-0 0-0 0; Shepherd, Kasey 0-0 0-0 0; Soto, Josh 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-56 23-28 72

MCNEESE STATE (4-3) Fields, Adrian 8-14 1-2 19; Guidry, Desharick 5-6 5-7 15; Cannon, Dontae 4-13 6-7 14; Mitchell, Jeremie 4-9 3-4 11; Hardy, Kevin 4-12 2-2 10; Lewis, Austin 3-3 0-0 6; Wells, Jordan 1-4 0-0 2; Kpan, Pete 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-62 17-22 77

Halftime Score: Louisiana 30, McNeese State 27. 3-point goals--Louisiana 7-16 (Wronkoski, Steven 3-4; Mbamalu, Bryant 2-6; Long, Shawn 1-2; Payton, Elfrid 1-3; Thompson, Alan-Micha 0-1), McNeese State 2-8 (Fields, Adrian 2-4; Cannon, Dontae 0-1; Mitchell, Jeremie 0-3). Fouled out--Louisiana-None, McNeese State-Lewis, Austin. Rebounds--Louisiana 44 (Long, Shawn 17), McNeese State 32 (Guidry, Desharick 12). Assists--Louisiana 12 (Payton, Elfrid 7), McNeese State 12 (Hardy, Kevin 6). Total fouls--Louisiana 17, McNeese State 21. Technical fouls--Louisiana-None, McNeese State-None. Att-1165

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