Feb 1, 2014 11:44 PM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE - Elfrid Payton scored a game-high 28 points, making 13 of 14 attempts from the floor, and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns turned in a strong defensive effort in a 66-50 Sun Belt Conference victory over ULM on Saturday at the Cajundome.
Bryant Mbamalu scored 14 points for the Ragin' Cajuns (13-9, 4-5 SBC), which snapped a three-game losing streak. Shawn Long, who returned to the lineup after a one-game absence (disciplinary), had 12 points and 12 points for the Cajuns to record his 30th career double-double.
"This was a great defensive effort by our group tonight," head coach Bob Marlin said. "I'm proud of how hard our guys played against a good team in ULM that scored 103 points, in 10 more minutes of play, against us the last time we played them. We did a good job of finishing the ball game and need to build on this and move on."
Payton, who posted a triple double (34 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) in the Cajuns double overtime 103-98 loss to ULM on Jan. 4, carried the Ragin' Cajuns in the first half. The junior scored 17 of the team's 24 points in the opening half, including 15 straight as the Cajuns turned a 20-12 deficit into a 24-21 lead at halftime.
ULM (7-10, 4-5 SBC) built a 20-12 lead when Marvin Williams scored on a layup with 7:11 remaining, but the Warhawks would go cold the rest of the half missing their last seven attempts from the floor with a pair of turnovers.
That allowed the Cajuns to close out the half with a 12-1 run beginning with the first of driving layups by Payton before his dunk with 1:33 remaining gave Louisiana a 24-21 lead.
A steal and layup by Kevin Brown gave the Cajuns a 40-30 lead before responding after ULM's Kyle Koszuta buried back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Warhawks close the gap to 40-36.
Brown completed a three-point play with 11:32 remaining that gave the Cajuns a 43-36 lead before free throws by Elridge Moore and a bucket by Payton would help push the lead back to double digits.
Long, who added four blocked shots in the game, opened the game 1-for-6 from the floor before finishing 5-for-14 overall.
"He was pretty sluggish in the first half, but came back strong and played very well for us tonight," Marlin said of the Morgan City, La., native. "We told him at halftime that it had been awhile since he had taken a three or had a dunk, so he came out (in the second half) and played the way that we know he's capable of."
Louisiana finished 27-for-53 (50.9 percent) from the floor, including a 16-for-26 effort (61.5 percent) in the second half. The Cajuns dominated the paint, outscoring ULM, 50-20, while holding a 34-31 advantage on the glass after the Warhawks held a 54-44 advantage in the previous meeting between the schools.
Tylor Ongwae led ULM with 16 points and 11 rebounds with Koszuta adding nine points off the bench. The Warhawks were held to 19-for-54 (35.2 percent) from the floor, but were 6-for-19 from long range (42.9 percent).
The Ragin' Cajuns will return to action on Thursday when it travels to face UT Arlington in a 7:30 p.m. contest at College Park Center.