SAN MARCOS, Texas – Nijal Pearson’s 3-pointer with 1:21 remaining erased Louisiana’s only lead of the game and Texas State regained sole possession of first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings with a 64-62 victory over the Ragin’ Cajuns on Saturday at Strahan Arena.
Tre Nottingham scored 17 points with Pearson and Eric Terry scoring 13 points each as Texas State (22-6, 11-4 SBC) moved a game ahead of Georgia State and Georgia Southern in the standings with three road games remaining on its schedule.
Louisiana, which was led by a career-high 25 points from Cedric Russell along with 13 points and a career-high 17 rebounds from JaKeenan Gant, had its three-game win streak snapped and fell to 16-11 overall and 7-7 in SBC play.
The Ragin’ Cajuns, who trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half, took their only lead of the game – 62-61 – on an alley-oop by Gant with 1:40 remaining. But Pearson, who went 3-for-16 from the floor in a 63-60 loss to ULM on Thursday, gave the Bobcats the lead for good on the following possession with a 3-pointer from the right wing.
A steal by Akiem Daschner on Louisiana’s following possession with 1:02 left led to a pair of opportunities, but misses by Jaylen Shead and Nottingham gave the Ragin’ Cajuns one last chance to win.
Gant claimed his 17th rebound on Nottingham’s missed 3-pointer, and the Ragin’ Cajuns pushed the ball up-court where Justin Miller’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short.
Louisiana trailed, 35-23, at halftime and 46-28 on a bucket by Terry with 17:04 left before it began to whittle away at the lead. A bucket by Russell, who 9-for-15 from the floor, cut the Texas State lead in half, 53-44, with 8:26 remaining. The sophomore scored all 14 points in a 14-6 run that helped Louisiana cut the deficit to 59-56 with 4:39 remaining.
Two free throws by Marcus Stroman with 3:55 left cut the Texas State lead to 59-58, and answered a bucket by Terry on the Bobcats’ next possession with a pair of free throws by Jerekius Davis at the 3:03 mark.
Gant, who was held scoreless in the first half, finished 6-for-14 from the floor with three assists and a pair of steals for Louisiana. Stroman added eight points and a game-high seven assists for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who held Texas State to 9-for-28 from the floor in the second half while forcing 16 turnovers overall.
Alonzo Sule pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Bobcats, which snapped a five-game losing streak to Louisiana and won its second-ever game against the Ragin’ Cajuns in 14 contests.
Louisiana will close out its home schedule beginning Thursday when it plays host to Coastal Carolina in a 7 p.m. contest at the Cajundome. The Ragin’ Cajuns will close out the home schedule on Sunday (March 3) in a 1:30 p.m., Senior Day contest against Appalachian State with Gant, Stroman and Malik Marquetti being honored prior to the game.