LITTLE ROCK — Cedric Russell scored 13 points to lead four players in double figures, but the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns was held without a basket for nearly nine minutes in the second half and dropped a 69-59 decision to Little Rock in the Sun Belt Conference regular-season finale for both teams on Saturday at Jack Stephens Center.
Ty Harper scored nine of his 12 points in the second half while Theo Akwuba and Devin Butts had 10 each as Louisiana (16-8, 10-7 Sun Belt) was limited to 8-for-33 (24.2 percent) from the floor in the second half and 20-for-60 (33.3 percent) for the game.
Despite the setback, Louisiana secured the No. 2 in the Sun Belt West Division and received a first-round bye in next week’s Sun Belt Conference Championships in Pensacola, Fla. The Ragin’ Cajuns will open play on Saturday (March 6) at 5 p.m., in a quarterfinal matchup at Hartsell Arena on the Pensacola State College campus against the winner of the No. 3 East seed and No. 6 West seed.
The Sun Belt Conference plans to release the full tournament bracket at noon (CT) on Sunday.
Louisiana, which opened the game on an 8-2 run before trailing 32-30 at halftime, regained the lead on Russell’s 3-pointer to open the second half before both teams traded the lead with buckets on their ensuing possessions.
Harper’s bucket off a Little Rock turnover gave Louisiana the lead at 35-34 with 17:35 remaining, but the Ragin’ Cajuns would miss their next 13 attempts from the floor before Harper scored again on a driving layup at the 9:08 mark.
The Trojans would pull away from a 46-43 lead beginning with five straight points from Nikola Maric before buckets by Ben Coupet, Jr., and Maric would extend Little Rock’s lead to 55-45 with 6:36 left.
Maric scored 17 points to lead all players with Coupet adding 14 and Marko Lukic 13 for the Trojans (11-14, 7-11 Sun Belt). Admir Besovic pulled down a team-high nine rebounds for Little Rock with Maric and Marko Andric each recording three assists.
Akwuba pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds for Louisiana while Mylik Wilson dished out a game-high four assists.
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