The Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball team dropped its seventh straight road contest to start the season, as its shooting touch went ice cold late in a 77-57 loss to Little Rock.
Little Rock’s vaunted defense put a cover on the Cajuns basket late. The Cajuns (5-7, 1-2 Sun Belt Conference) made just two of their final 20 field-goal attempts, allowing the Trojans (13-1, 3-0) to run away with the game.
“We’ve got to make shots,” said Cajuns coach Bob Marlin in a postgame radio interview. “The second half, once it got to the seven-minute mark, it went downhill in a hurry.”
It looked like the Cajuns were primed to make a run on Little Rock in the second half, when a pair of layups from Kasey Shepherd and one from Jay Wright trimmed a nine-point Trojans lead to four.
Then the Trojans defense clamped down and the Cajuns couldn’t find a way to knock down a jumper. After Wright’s layup made it a 49-45 game with 12:13 to go, the Cajuns missed nine consecutive field-goal attempts.
Little Rock responded with an 8-0 run to push its lead to 12 points with 8:07 to go, with six of those points coming on a pair of 3-pointers.
Johnathan Stove finally ended a 4:27 scoring drought by knocking down a pair of free throws, but the Trojans didn’t slow down and the Cajuns never truly found their shooting touch, especially from outside.
The Cajuns missed all of their 11 attempts from 3-point range in the second half, while the Trojans knocked down nine of their final 12 shots to quickly turn a close game into a blowout.
Little Rock guard Roger Woods led all scorers with 16 points, and he was one of four Trojans to finish the game in double figures.
Shawn Long led the Cajuns with 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting and he pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. He is two rebounds shy of setting a SBC career record. Wright also finished in double figures with 10 points.
The Cajuns held the Little Rock offense in check for most of the first half, limiting the Trojans to a 7-for-29 effort from the floor in the first 16:47 of the game.
“We did a really good job early (defensively),” Marlin said.
But things hit a bit of a snag when the game was paused with 4:44 to go in the first half because a large portion of the lights turned off in the Jack Stephens Center.
“We chose to play with half the lights on,” Marlin said. “From that point on, (Little Rock) played well.”
Woods got things going for the Trojans with a 3-pointer that broke a 25-25 tie with 3:13 remaining. That bucket started a 9-2 run that built Little Rock’s lead to seven points, as Little Rock made four of its final six shot attempts of the first half.
Wright ended the run when he knocked down a 3-pointer of his own with three seconds remaining in the first half, sending the Cajuns to the locker room trailing 34-30.
The Cajuns will stay in Arkansas and return to action Saturday against an Arkansas State team that knocked off ULM in overtime Thursday night to move to 3-0 in SBC play.
“We’ll be prepared and we’re going to show up and win on Saturday,” Marlin said.