LAFAYETTE — Within a 40-point season-opening win, the Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball team saw some early lessons contribute to a gradual scoring spurt.
The Ragin’ Cajuns turned a 14-point halftime lead into a 108-68 victory over Division III Louisiana College on Friday night at the Cajundome.
“We got off to a quick lead, and we had a chance to get some separation,” coach Bob Marlin said. “We didn’t. We let them come right back in the game. They got excited, made some plays and then we put them at the free-throw line.”
The Cajuns used the first couple of minutes to take an 8-0 lead thanks to a Long dunk, a 3-pointer from Hayward Register and a three-point play by point guard Jay Wright. Louisiana College got on the board via a free throw from Raheem Regis at 17:26.
The Cajuns suffered a setback when Long was forced to sit down six minutes into the game after a second personal foul. Wright also picked up a pair of early fouls.
“I wanted to let guys play a little bit with two fouls, but I did take them out for a little while and I thought the other group played well,” Marlin said. “We are going to substitute and bring fresh guys in as much as we can. Sometimes, we are forced to do that when we are not quite ready.”
Jay Hedgeman helped provide an inside scoring presence by turning a pair of drives into dunks during the opening 12 minutes. A Hedgeman steal and slam made the score 31-17 with 8:33 left.
The Cajuns (1-0) maintained a double-digit advantage through the rest of the first half. A Bryce Washington offensive rebound and layup put UL-Lafayette on top 41-25 with just under four minutes left.
By the time the half was over, the Cajuns had a 55-29 cushion. Hedgeman had 10 points to lead the Cajuns.
“Jay is a mismatch,” Marlin said. “He will be smaller than guys he faces at Miami (in the next game). He gets to the basket in a hurry, and he is a good passer.”
Defensively, the Cajuns forced Louisiana College point guard Kevin Cottonham into seven first-half turnovers. Cottonham had 63 turnovers in 21 games last season.
“We kept (Cottonham) on his heels,” Marlin said. “He is a smart player. Holding him to zero assists and eight turnovers (for the game) is not typical for him.”
The Cajuns led by as many as 40 points (the final margin) in the second half. Five Cajuns finished in double figures, led by Devonta Walker’s 17 points and 11 rebounds. Kasey Shepherd had 16.
Regis led all scorers with 22 points for Louisiana College.
The Cajuns will visit Miami at 6 p.m. Monday.