LAKE CHARLES — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette men’s basketball team didn’t shoot free throws or 3-pointers very well Saturday night. The Cajuns also turned the ball over too many times during McNeese State runs.
More than anything, though, the Cajuns had no answer for Desharick Guidry.
The Cowboys senior had 18 points and 12 rebounds by halftime, and he didn’t slow down much in the second half in leading the hosts to an 80-70 win to snap a two-game Cajuns win streak.
Guidry finished with 29 points and 16 rebounds and missed only three shots all night, going 8-of-10 from the field and 12-of-13 from the line. His big first half, and a 17-4 run by McNeese (4-2) in the final four minutes before halftime, gave the Cowboys a 41-31 advantage.
“We told our guys that they had two guys we had to take care of in Guidry and (Kevin) Hardy,” Cajuns coach Bob Marlin said. “And they both go double-double. They outplayed us down low.”
Hardy added 13 points and 11 rebounds, with those two leading the Cowboys to a 47-38 rebound advantage. UL-Lafayette’s Shawn Long, seeing his most extensive action since missing two games with a foot injury, finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Long, who had 29 points and 15 rebounds in the Cajuns’ 92-66 win over the Cowboys in Lafayette last year, had eight points in the game’s first eight minutes before McNeese went to a zone defense and effectively slowed the Cajuns’ inside game.
“Shawn is so big and strong inside,” McNeese coach Dave Simmons said. “We had to go to the zone, and if they’d hit their outside shots, we’d been in trouble all night long.”
The Cajuns didn’t do that. UL-Lafayette finished 3-for-20 outside the arc and went 9-of-19 from the free-throw line, including a 4-of-11 mark in the second half. McNeese converted many of those long-range misses into transition baskets on the way to putting four players in double figures.
“We got beat in transition,” Marlin said. “Those points off turnovers are hard to stop.”
The Cajuns (3-4) cut that halftime margin to two points at 53-51 with 13:04 left on Bryan Williams’ putback, but another Cowboy run — this one 11-1 — provided another double-digit lead. And when the Cajuns threatened late, Guidry scored 10 straight points in a period of just over three minutes.
“Him coming out as strong as he did was big for us,” Simmons said. “Tonight, he said that every rebound was his.”
Two of Guidry’s free throws came with 2:29 left after Long was hit for a flagrant foul on an attempted blocked shot. The free throws made it 75-66, the Cowboys kept possession on the flagrant foul, and Keelan Garrett nailed a 3-pointer moments later for a 78-66 lead.
“He blocked it and came down with his arm,” Marlin said of the foul. “They said he hit him in the face. That hurt, certainly. We had gotten ourselves back in the fight.”
“To be honest, I didn’t think it was a flagrant foul,” said Guidry, who ranks 15th nationally in rebounding. “It was a hard foul, but it wasn’t flagrant.”
Brian Williams added 15 points for the Cajuns as the only other double-figure scorer. Kasey Shepherd, forced into point-guard duties with Jay Wright sidelined with a virus, had seven points, seven assists and three steals. Shepherd’s jumper with 4:21 left in the half gave UL-Lafayette a 27-24 lead, but Guidry nailed a 3-pointer and then had the last two inside baskets in an 11-0 run that gave the Cowboys the lead for good.
McNeese hit eight of its last nine shots in the first half to take the double-digit lead, but the Cajuns held the Cowboys to one field goal in the first four minutes after halftime and used a 14-6 run to get within 47-45 on Long’s putback with 15:48 left. It was still a two-point game three minutes later before the Cowboys’ second-half run.