Any questions about Louisiana-Lafayette’s physical superiority over Centenary were dispelled early Saturday afternoon.
The Ragin’ Cajun basketball squad outmanned the Gents from the start (a 25-6 lead in the first seven minutes) to finish (a 13-2 run to end the game), eventually taking their fourth straight home win in a 115-59 romp at the Cajundome.
UL-Lafayette (5-4) had a 20-point lead before the second media timeout, led by 30 with four minutes left in the first half and held a 64-28 halftime lead. Despite every available player seeing almost the same amount of action in each half, the lead reached 50 just after the mid-point of the second half.
The Gents (4-7), playing their second game in a 20-hour period, were doubled up by the hot-shooting Cajuns from just after the opening tip until the final 6:12.
“We dominated the paint and we took good care of the basketball,” said UL-Lafayette coach Bob Marlin. “We wanted to pressure them from the start and try to force the issue, and that let us play everyone in the first half.”
Down the stretch, the biggest excitement for Cajun fans was the long-range accuracy of Xavian Rimmer, who had struggled from the field through the season’s first month. Rimmer, who had 27 points in a title-game win over Georgia State, hit five 3-pointers in a stretch of less than three minutes late in the game.
Rimmer finished with 15 points and was 5-of-7 on 3-pointers as one of five Cajuns in double figures. He was the only Cajun to play more than 20 minutes.
“The first half, I was trying to get teammates involved,” said Rimmer, who also had three assists and two steals off the bench. “Second half, I found the rhythm and my teammates were finding me. It was a good feeling, a relief off my chest to make some shots.”
“I was really proud of what he did,” Marlin said. “He was the guy I wanted to get more time and have something positive happen. He’s been disappointed in the way his season’s started, and he hasn’t shot the ball well. We knew he was a better shooter than that, and it was good to see him have some confidence and break out.”
The Cajuns set a school record with 16 3-pointers in a 16-of-26 performance.
“That’s a big key for us,” said guard Kasey Shepherd, who had all of his 11 points in the game’s first 14 minutes. “In the first half we were able to knock some in, and after that we were able to pitch it inside. That opens things up, and when you have a big like Shawn (Long), you get him the ball.”
Long had a game-high 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting in 19 minutes of play.
Devonta Walker had 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
and Hayward Register had four 3-pointers for 12 points.
James Sapp, a transfer from UL-Monroe, had 17 points and seven rebounds to lead Centenary.
“Sapp’s a good player,” Marlin said. “We gave up too many offensive rebounds. We’ve been mentally exhausted with exams and we had an emotional game Wednesday, so we tried to back off a little in practice the last two days.”
That obviously worked. UL-Lafayette had its biggest output in Marlin’s five years, and the most since a 117-57 win over La. College early in the 2002-03 season. That was also the last time the Cajuns had 64 points in a half. The 16 treys topped the previous mark of 15 set three times, the most recent at Troy in 2009.
“I said Monday that we’d start shooting it soon,” Marlin said.