Feb 2, 2013 11:47 PM by UL Sports Information
TROY, Ala. -- Troy used a 16-3 run over a 4:49 span midway through the second half to take control of a tight game, eventually holding off a comeback by the Ragin' Cajuns men's basketball team to claim a 71-52 victory here Saturday night in Trojan Arena.
The loss spoiled the Cajuns (8-16, 4-9 Sun Belt) attempt at posting back-to-back wins for the first time this season. UL remains in third place in the Sun Belt West with a 4-9 record. Troy (10-13, 5-7 Sun Belt) ended a three-game losing streak to the Cajuns.
"They were just the better team tonight," Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin said. "They out-played us offensively and defensively. We just didn't play very well.
"This game took the same pattern as a couple of other road games this year. We hang close through halftime and have the lead within reach only to have a couple of possessions go bad and then we find ourselves down by 10 or 12 points," Marlin added. "I thought we started the second half playing great, but we give up a couple of open jumpers and we were back down by 12."
After trailing by 10 at the intermission, the Cajuns used baskets by Alan-Michael Thompson and Elfrid Payton and a three-pointer by Bryant Mbamalu to cut the deficit to 39-34 with 12:56 remaining.
Jeff Mullahey scored all seven of his points during a 16-3 Troy run that put the Trojans ahead, 55-37 with 8:07 remaining. The Cajuns could come no closer than 15 points down the stretch.
"I thought we were ready to step up and take over, but Elfrid was called for a carry on a play on which he scored and they got loose for an easy basket at the other end and then it just snowballed from there," Marlin remarked.
Mbamalu led the Cajuns with 16 points while Payton and Thompson added 11 points each.
After scoring 105 points and getting 33 points from its bench on Thursday night, the Cajuns struggled to find points offensively as only four Cajuns (Mbamalu, Payton, Thompson & Shawn Long) scored points in the first 39 minutes of the game. The rest of the unit was responsible for just the final six points of the game, going 2-for-16 from the field (.125).
"We need our team to play together offensively and we can't have just three or four players doing the majority of our scoring. That was the case tonight which hurt us," Marlin stated.
Tevin Calhoun came off the bench to lead Troy with 15 points, while Ray Chambers was the only other player in double-figures (10 points). The Trojans finished with six players scoring eight points or more.
Long, who was bothered by leg cramps during the game that limited him to 32 minutes, finished with eight points and 11 rebounds to fall just short of recording his 15th double-double of the season.
Mbamalu continued his strong play since coming back from a thumb injury that sidelined him for four games. He was 5-for-10 from the field with a pair of three-pointers.
Payton had his driving ability curtailed because of foul trouble, finishing the night 5-for-9 from the field with four assists and one steal.
Thompson went 3-for-4 from three-point to post his seventh double-figure scoring game of the year.
Troy's shooting proved to be the difference in the game as the Trojans shot 46 percent (26-56) from the field, including a 9-for-18 effort from three-point (.500) and 83 percent from the line (10-12). The Cajuns made just 20 of their 53 field goal attempts (.377), including 7-for-18 from three-point (.389) and 5-for-10 from the line (.500).
Louisiana jumped out to a 5-0 lead (18:07) on a basket by Payton and a three-pointer by Thompson. Troy would come back with a 9-2 burst that included a pair of three-pointers, to take a 9-7 lead by the 14:17 mark.
The game was tied at 12, 14 and 16 before the Trojans ran off seven of the next nine points, capped by a Calhoun trey, to lead, 23-18 at the 6:06 mark.
A Mbamalu three-pointer pulled the Cajuns to within 23-21 (5:33), but UL would score just two points over the final 5:33 of the half and trailed 33-23 at the break.
Back-to-back dunks by Long and Payton to start the second half pulled the Cajuns closer, 33-27 (17:53), but Troy countered with back-to-back treys from Hunter Williams and Westley Hinton to push the lead to 39-27 at the 16:49 mark.
The Ragin' Cajuns have over a week to prepare for their next game, taking both Thursday and Saturday night off from league play before hosting UL-Monroe on Sunday, Feb. 10 beginning at approximately 7:15 p.m. in the Cajundome. The contest will be part of a doubleheader with the women's team facing the Warhawks that day at 5:00 p.m.