LAFAYETTE — UL-Lafayette might need its guards to rediscover their stroke if they want to get back in the win column.
The trend isn’t hard to find. For the third consecutive game, the starting backcourt struggled to knock down shots, and the Cajuns were lost for the third consecutive time after Monday’s 57-55 loss to ULM.
The starting backcourt of Jay Wright and Kasey Shepherd went just 2-for-12 from the floor against the Warhawks. In the Cajuns’ three-game losing streak, Wright and Shepherd have made just 12 of their 51 attempts from the floor, including a 3-for-21 mark from 3-point range.
It wasn’t as if Shepherd and Wright were getting bad looks at the basket. They just didn’t connect when they had open looks.
“I thought we had good shot selection,” coach Bob Marlin said. “We’ve got to make them. We’re not going to beat people going 2-for-18 from 3. We’re better than that. Our guys have shot it well in practice. We had a good practice (Sunday) night, but we didn’t make them tonight.”
The Cajuns’ 2-for-18 effort from 3-point range was their worst shooting performance from deep since November 2011, when they connected on 1-of-9 from beyond the arc against Cal State Fullerton.
With the Warhawks spending most of the game in a 2-3 zone designed to take away the interior, the Cajuns’ failure to knock down shots played a central role in the loss.
That could give opposing teams a blueprint to stop the Cajuns if they can’t get out of their shooting funk.
“I think we just need to get in the gym and get more shots up,” senior guard Xavian Rimmer said. “I think more teams are going to play zone now.”
Revisiting the end
Despite their shooting troubles, the Cajuns were only down one point with 37.5 seconds remaining and had a chance to set themselves up for a game-winning or game-tying shot.
But miscommunication allowed the Warhawks to whittle the clock all the way down to 2.5 seconds as the Cajuns neither fouled nor forced a turnover. The Cajuns didn’t want to foul either Tylor Ongwae or Nick Coppola, but they also needed time to set up a scoring play.
Despite the miscommunication, the Cajuns had a chance when Wright nearly stole a pass. But Wright was unable to gain possession of the ball inbounds, and possession stayed with ULM.
Marlin and Rimmer said after the game that they thought the Cajuns would’ve won if Wright had made the momentum-changing play.
Instead, the Cajuns will know what to do if that situation arises again.
“We turned it into an experience to try to learn and teach,” Marlin said. “We talked about it afterward in the locker room with the guys, what we need to do in case we get in that situation again.”
Where they stand
As bad as things seem to have gone for the Cajuns in their last three games, they still remain in striking distance for the league crown.
ULM moved into sole possession of first place with its sixth consecutive Sun Belt Conference win, vaulting to 6-1 in conference play. But the Cajuns are one of a pack of teams just behind the Warhawks with two or three losses.
The Cajuns 4-3 record in SBC games is good for a tie with UT-Arlington for fourth place in the league standings.
The Warhawks have home games against UT-Arlington and Georgia Southern, currently the SBC’s second-place team, this week.