Russell Harrison scored a game-high 17 points as ULM sank a combined 11 3-pointers and took advantage of a frigid start from the floor by the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in a 72-66 victory on Thursday in a Sun Belt Conference Men’s Basketball game at the Cajundome.
Koreen Ozier added 15 points with Elijah Gonzales adding 12 points and Thomas Howell 11 as ULM (5-15, 3-10 Sun Belt) snapped a five-game losing streak at the Cajundome, picking up its first win in Lafayette since a 57-55 win on Jan. 19, 2015.
Louisiana (13-7, 7-6 Sun Belt), playing at home for the first time since Jan. 23, missed 20 of its first 24 attempts from the floor while missing starting guard Brayan Au (injury) and key reserve Devin Butts (suspension) from the lineup.
By the time freshman Ty Harper scored on a layup at the 5:04 mark of the first half to start a 10-0 run, the Ragin’ Cajuns trailed 27-12 and closed to within 27-20 on a bucket by Mylik Wilson at the 2:27 mark.
Louisiana would close to 29-21 on Jacobi Gordon’s free throw with 1:28 left in the half, but ULM would get a putback dunk by Marco Morency and a long-distance, buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Gonzales to give the Warhawks a 34-23 lead at the break.
The Ragin’ Cajuns got the lead to under double digits on Dou Gueye’s basket at the 17:16 mark of the second half, cutting the ULM lead to 36-28, and Louisiana would add baskets by Theo Akwuba and Gueye to close to within 36-32 before the Warhawks would counter with a bucket by Howell and a free throw by Harrison.
The Warhawks, who entered the game dropping six games by a combined 26 points during the 2020-21 season, would answer each Louisiana rally as the Ragin’ Cajuns never got closer than three points the rest of the night.
Cedric Russell, who scored 13 points and moved past former Ragin’ Cajuns teammate Bryce Washington on the school’s all-time scoring list, cut the Warhawk lead to 54-51 with a baseline jumper at 8:12 left before ULM answered with a dunk by Howell and a floating baseline jumper from Josh Nicholas for a 58-51 lead.
After Louisiana again got to within three points on Russell’s driving layup with 2:01 left, ULM would counter as Howell made one of two free throws for a 66-62 lead with 1:40 remaining before a pair of free throws by Gonzales with 37 seconds left gave the Warhawks a 68-63 advantage.
Wilson added 13 points, three assists and three blocked shots for Louisiana, which went 10-for-36 (27.8 percent) from the floor in the first half before rebounding to shoot 14-for-26 (53.8 percent) in the second half. Gueye added 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting for the Ragin’ Cajuns while Akwuba notched his eighth double-double of the year with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
The final game of the two-game series shifts to Monroe with Louisiana and ULM facing off on Saturday in a 4 p.m. contest at Fant-Ewing Coliseum. The game will be on KPEL 96.5 FM and will be available on ESPN+.
After concluding the series against ULM, Louisiana will return home to close out the home portion of its schedule on Feb. 19-20 against UT Arlington.
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