LAFAYETTE – Redshirt freshman Kobe Julien scored 16 of his season-high 23 points in the second half while Jalen Johnson recorded the first double-double of the season as the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Men’s Basketball team overcame an early deficit and defeat Youngstown State, 73-61, in a non-conference game on Friday at the Cajundome.
Cedric Russell added 14 points while freshman Mylik Wilson’s steal and dunk in the second half sparked a second-half comeback for Louisiana (3-1), equaling its best four-game start for the third time since the 1994-95 season.
Outscoring Youngstown State (1-2), 47-32, in the second half, Louisiana converted on all 22 free throw attempts in the second half to set a single-game school record that had stood since Feb. 24, 1968. Louisiana, which entered the game ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference in free throw percentage (.760), finished 28-for-32 from the charity stripe in pulling away from the Penguins.
YSU led for the majority of the first half, taking a 27-22 lead on a pair of free throws by Garrett Covington with 1:39 remaining. The Ragin’ Cajuns, who went 6-for-10 from the free throw line in the opening 20 minutes, missed three attempts in the final minute to trail 29-26 at the break.
Darius Quisenberry gave the Penguins their biggest lead of the game – 32-26 – on a 3-pointer to open the second half, but Louisiana would chip away at the lead with a pair of free throws by Johnson giving the Ragin’ Cajuns a 35-34 lead at the 14:02 mark.
Julien, who finished 8-for-8 from the free throw line, gave Louisiana a 39-37 lead with 12:35 left before Wilson deflected away an Penguin pass on the ensuing inbounds, got the steal and scoring on a highlight reel dunk for a 41-37 lead.
YSU took its last lead of the game when Naz Bohannon scored on a jumper in the lane with 9:04 remaining, but Louisiana would take the lead for good on the next possession as Julien’s bucket gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 51-50 lead at the 8:40 mark.
Louisiana would hold the Penguins scoreless over a nearly four-minute stretch after Devin Morgan’s bucket cut the deficit to 53-52 with 6:22 remaining.
Johnson, who scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for his double-double in a Louisiana uniform, and Julien scored four points each in an 8-0 run as the Ragin’ Cajuns stretched their lead to 61-52 with 2:44 remaining.
Wilson scored nine points and collected two steals for Louisiana, which held YSU to 23-for-67 (34 percent) from the floor and 8-for-31 (26 percent) from behind the 3-point line. Trajan Wesley, who missed the Ragin’ Cajuns previous two games due to an injury, dished out a team-high three assists for Louisiana while Dou Gueye scored all six of his points from the free throw line in the second half.
Quisenberry led YSU (1-2) with 18 points and a game-high four assists with Morgan and Michael Akuckie scoring eight points each.
Louisiana will head out on the road for its next three games beginning on Thursday (Nov. 21) against Wyoming in an on-campus game as part of the MGM Resorts Main Event. The Ragin’ Cajuns will then travel to Las Vegas, Nev., to complete the MTE with games against Detroit Mercy (Nov. 25) and UC Irvine (Nov. 26).
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