LAFAYETTE — An early technical foul, plus a couple of personal fouls meant junior forward Shawn Long spent most of the first half watching the University of Louisiana at Lafayette men’s basketball team play against Troy.
Long played only three minutes in the first half, picking up three fouls in the process.
When he had a chance to redeem himself late in the game, he missed the front ends of one-and-one free throws twice, aiding a furious Trojans rally at the end of regulation.
But Long took care of business in overtime, where he scored five of the Cajuns’ 11 points in the 84-80 win by sinking five of six attempts from the free-throw line.
“He stepped up and made them,” Cajuns coach Bob Marlin said in a postgame radio interview.
“They were big and enabled us to go up four. Even if he just hits one, we put a smaller lineup in and have an opportunity to switch and take away a possible tying 3-point shot.”
Despite playing only three first-half minutes, Long still managed to scoe a team-high 17 points. He played 20 of the final 25 minutes of the game and didn’t draw another foul.
The first half against Troy was possibly the Cajuns’ best half of the year as far as ball security is concerned.
The Cajuns had only two first-half turnovers, and it allowed them to build their lead to 12 points in the first half despite allowing the Trojans to connect on better than 60 percent of their shots.
As good as it was early, the Cajuns nearly lost the game because of their ball security at the end. They turned it over four times in the final 1:11 of regulation, allowing Troy to turn an eight point deficit into a tie game by the end of regulation.
“We were trying to take care of it in regulation, but we didn’t do what we needed to do in the last 30 seconds,” Marlin said. “We had two turnovers at halftime, did a great job taking care of the ball, then all of a sudden in the last four minutes we missed a couple front ends. Then they come down and they press us.”
The Wronk way
Junior guard Steven Wronkowski more than doubled his previous season high with a standout performance in Troy, scoring 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting in 25 minutes.
Wronkowski set or matched season highs in virtually every statistical category, including made field goals, field-goal attempts, rebounds and minutes played.
Senior guard Brian Williams was re-inserted into the Cajuns’ starting lineup against Troy after starting the previous four games on the bench.
Williams scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 37 minutes on the floor and grabbed six rebounds.
He replaced freshman Johnathan Stove in the starting lineup. Stove played 21 minutes and scored five points.
Where they stand
Of the Cajuns’ five remaining games, three are at home, three are against teams currently in the bottom third of the Sun Belt Conference standings and two are against teams above the Cajuns, including UT-Arlington, which is a half-game ahead of the Cajuns.
The UL-Lafayette women have a tough task in front of them as they try to make it into the top four of the conference standings by the end of the season.
Three of their final five games come against Texas State, Arkansas-Little Rock and Arkansas State, who have a combined Sun Belt record of 36-8.