Posted: Dec 23, 2012 1:23 PM by UL Sports Information
Shawn Long scored a game-high 23 points with 14 rebounds for his Sun Belt best seventh double-double of the year and Bryant Mbamalu added 22 points, all in the second half, as the Ragin' Cajuns rallied from an eight-point second half deficit to pull away for a 91-79 decision over Duquesne on Saturday night in the Cajundome.
The victory snaps a two-game losing streak for Louisiana, improving the Cajuns to 5-8 on the year. Duquesne slips to 7-6.
"I thought it was a good effort for us tonight," Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin said. "Our freshmen kept things going for us in the first half until we started to click offensively in the second half and everything came together for us."
With the Cajuns shooting just .433 from the field in the first half, Duquesne took advantage of some hot perimeter shooting to take a 38-33 lead at the half. The Dukes were six-for-11 from three-point in the first half (.545) and finished with 11 treys in the game.
The Cajun trio of Long, Mbamalu and Elfrid Payton, who entered the game averaging 42 points a game, could only muster 11 in the opening stanza but the Cajuns were picked up by the trio of Steven Wronkoski (8 points), Josh Soto (7) and Kasey Shepherd (5), who combined to score 20 points in the first half for Louisiana.
"That's a good sign to see," Marlin said. "We've been getting pretty steady scoring from Shawn (Long), Bryant (Mbamalu) and Elfrid (Payton) and on the nights when we get another player or two to give us some points, we have been successful. Tonight, Duquesne might have run away in the first half if those guys hadn't stepped up."
After struggling offensively in the first half, the Cajun offense caught fire in the second half. Louisiana made 20 of its 29 second half shots (.714), including a six-for-eight effort from three-point, to come back.
Trailing 47-42 with 15:35 left in the game, the Ragin' Cajuns ran off 12 of the next 14 points to take the lead for good, 54-49 with 12:50 left. Mbamalu, who was seven-for-eight from the field in the second half with four three-pointers, started the run with three-pointer and added four more points during the spurt.
Duquesne would try to rally, but each time they hit a basket, the Cajuns would counter with two. A Mbamalu trey with 8:24 left piushed the lead to 69-59 and when Alan-Michael Thompson made UL's 10th and final trey with 2:04 left, Louisiana led by 16 (85-69) and the game was for all purposes, over.
Long was again outstanding, building on the credentials that make him the leading candidate for Sun Belt Freshman of the Year by scoring 23 points with 14 rebounds. Mbamalu, who was 0-for-2 from the field as part of a scoreless first half, came back to finish with a season-high 22 points and his second straight 20-point effort.
Elridge Moore returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench for the first time on Tuesday vs. Robert Morris for the first time this season, went five-for-six from the field as part of a 10-point night. Wronkoski added 12 points.
Derrick Colter led Duquesne with 25 points while Sean Johnson added 16 points and Jeremiah Jones 12.
Louisiana will take a short break for the Christmas holiday before resuming Sun Belt Conference play at Arkansas State on Thursday, Dec. 27. The Cajuns will be back in the Cajundome on Saturday, Dec. 29 against UALR beginning at 7:30 p.m.