LAFAYETTE – Senior forward Shawn Long dominated for 22 minutes and the rest of his Louisiana-Lafayette teammates didn’t fare too bad either as the Cajuns blasted Loyola of New Orleans 106-62 Wednesday night at the Cajundome.
Long grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds and also matched his season high in points with 25. He unpacked his entire offensive toolbox in the game, knocking down a pair of shots from 3-point range while also showcasing both power and finesse from the low post.
By the time the first half was 15 minutes old, Long has already compiled his 55th career double double.
“I guess he was showing his bag of tricks, or his arsenal of different moves,” said coach Bob Marlin. “He can do a lot of things with a basketball and because of that he’s got a good future.”
The Cajuns (2-2) put Loyola (4-3) away with a stretch midway through the first half, when they busted out of a mini shooting slump to turn a seven-point advantage into a 20-point lead over the course of four and a half minutes.
During that stretch, the Cajuns hit five of seven shots from the floor after hitting just two of their previous 11.
More importantly, three of those five buckets came from beyond the arc, an area where the Cajuns have struggled to start the season. Jay Wright, Hayward Register and Johnathan Stove each connected on a triple during that 18-5 Cajuns run, and with 3:48 remaining in the first half, the Cajuns held a 44-24 lead.
“It’s exciting to see shots go down, because it’s contagious,” Marlin said.
Besides Long, four other Cajuns scored in double figures, led by 13 points from Wright. Stove also had a productive and efficient game, scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four assists.
The Cajuns also accomplished all of their major numerical goals for the contest and at least temporarily reversed some troubling trends.
After being gouged from 3-point range in losses to Alabama and Miami, Marlin challenged his team to hold Loyola to less than five made 3-pointers. Loyola went 3-for-21 from deep.
The other two goals were to limit Loyola to 30 percent from the field, which Loyola barely matched, and under 65 points, which Loyola fell three points shy of reaching.
“Sometimes numerical goals are the best for our guys,” Marlin said. “Just put it on the board, circle it and say, ‘This is what we’re shooting for.’ We did a good job of that tonight.”
As Marlin hinted at earlier in the week, the Cajuns unveiled a new-look starting lineup. Forwards Devonta Walker and Jay Hedgeman earned their first starts of the season, though Hedgeman only played 13 minutes thanks to four fouls.
Freshman forward Bryce Washington, who started the first three games of the season, did not suit up for the Cajuns.
The Cajuns will have a little more than a week off for Thanksgiving break before opening up their conference slate against UL-Monroe on December 3.
ODDS AND ENDS
The Cajuns honored Long at halfcourt before the game after he broke a 42-year-old school record for all-time rebounds against Alabama last week … Counting the exhibition game against Louisiana College, the Cajuns have scored at least 50 points in eight of their 10 halves. They scored 50 in both halves Wednesday night … Senior Matt Marlin, coach Marlin’s son, hit a 3-pointer from the wing late in the second half for his first career points as a Cajun … All 12 players that saw the court for the Cajuns scored at least three points Wednesday.