LAFAYETTE — Every now and then, the Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball team will turn in a clunker of a second half, and Saturday’s 84-69 loss to UT-Arlington in the Cajundome was one of those times.
“I don’t know that I’ve watched or coached a game that’s been more painful to watch in the second half, and tonight we felt totally helpless on the bench,” Ragin’ Cajuns coach Bob Marlin said.
The Mavericks (13-9, 7-5 Sun Belt) shot nearly 57 percent from the floor in the second half against the Cajuns (13-11, 7-6), erasing a four-point halftime deficit to lead by as many as 17 in the second half.
“We gave up 57 percent and shoot 28 (percent) in the second half — that’s your ballgame,” Marlin said. “The team that plays the best usually deserves to win, and today that team was UT-Arlington.”
The Cajuns made matters worse by struggling to make shots. They connected on only one of their seven second-half 3-point attempts and shot just 28 percent from the floor in the second half.
But the turnovers and personal fouls hurt the Cajuns the worst — especially early in the second half, when the Mavericks needed only 67 seconds to go on a 10-0 run and turn a six-point deficit into a four-point advantage.
In that span, the Cajuns turned the ball over twice and fouled twice on driving layups. It would continue to be a theme in the early part of the second half as the Mavericks started running away with the game.
The Mavericks never relinquished the lead once they went on that 10-0 run, largely thanks to the Cajuns’ continued struggles to produce against a zone defense.
“We ran three different offenses against the zone,” Marlin said. “We just didn’t have a good night. You look at our guys, who played well for us?”
The answer to that question? Well, nobody, really, at least not for the entire game.
Freshman Bryce Washington had a nice first half, with 10 points and six rebounds, but he only finished with 13 points — a team high.
The same goes for Shawn Long, who looked like he was on track for another big game with 10 points and eight rebounds in the first half. But he found himself in early foul trouble in the second half, picking up his fourth foul with 11:14 remaining. Long finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and he was not a factor as the Cajuns tried to make a dent in the Mavericks’ big lead.
After the game, Marlin didn’t sound pleased with the cautious way Long played after he got in foul trouble. But Marlin said it’s part of a larger problem with his team, which has placed more emphasis on offense than defense.
“Shawn (was) in foul trouble, then he decided he didn’t want to guard, so he didn’t play at the end — it was unfortunate,” Marlin said. “Hayward (Register) got beat off the dribble. You see what I have to deal with on a daily basis. We’ve got to get a combination of guys that can do both.”
Mavericks forward Jorge Bilbao was 7-for-7 from the floor to score a game-high 18 points. He came into the game averaging 3.4 points, with a career high of 11.
Ragin’ Cajuns players were not made available for comment after the game.