Feb 21, 2014 9:18 AM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE - Senior Bryant Mbamalu scored a season-high 21 points and freshman Hayward Register scored all nine of his points in a 21-3 run in the first half as the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns earned its sixth consecutive victory with a 78-63 decision over Troy in a Sun Belt Conference game on Thursday at the Cajundome.
Shawn Long and Elfrid Payton scored 15 points each as Louisiana (18-9, 9-5 SBC) moved to within a half-game of idle Western Kentucky in the league standings. The Cajuns, whose 12 wins at home are the most since going 12-1 in 2001-02, will return to action on Saturday when it visits league leader Georgia State (19-7, 12-1 SBC) in a regionally-televised 7:30 p.m. CST contest at GSU Arena.
Troy (9-16, 4-9 SBC), which had won two of its last three games entering the contest, took a 16-10 lead when Kevin Thomas made the second of two free throws with 8:25 remaining in the first half.
But the lead would eventually evaporate as Register buried the first of three 3-pointers that cut the lead to 16-13. After a layup by Thomas that put the Trojans ahead, 18-13, the Cajuns scored the next 14 points to put the game away.
Abbeville native J.J. Davenport sank the second of a pair of free throws that cut the lead to 18-14 before consecutive layups by Mbamalu, who finished 9-for-17 from the floor, tied the game at 18-18 with 5:46 remaining.
Then it time for Register, the Lafayette native and Comeaux High product, to answer again. After a steal by Mbamalu, Register buried a 3-pointer from the right-wing to put the Cajuns ahead, 21-18, before sinking his third of the night, after a steal by Payton, which pushed Louisiana's lead to 24-18 with 4:30 remaining.
Xavian Rimmer added a 3-pointer from the top of the key that gave the Cajuns a 27-18 advantage and layups by Davenport and Payton would give Louisiana a 31-19 lead in the final minute of the first half.
Troy got as close as 35-27 when Hunter Williams sank a 3-pointer with 18:31 remaining in the game, but a three-point play by Long, a layup by Payton and a dunk by Long gave Louisiana a 42-27 lead.
Louisiana finished 31-for-57 (54.4 percent) from the floor and went 5-for-14 (35.7 percent) from 3-point range. Long grabbed a team-high nine rebounds for the Cajuns while Payton dished out seven assists and Mbamalu recorded a career-high four steals.
Antoine Myers scored 14 points to lead four players in double figures. Thomas, Williams and Kelton Ford added 11 points each for the Trojans, who finished 21-for-54 (38.9 percent) from the floor and 14-for-26 (53.8 percent) from the free throw line.