LAFAYETTE — University of Louisiana at Lafayette coach Bob Marlin said last week that scoring was down in men’s college basketball, but it wasn’t down in the Cajundome.
He wasn’t kidding. His Cajuns used their full offensive arsenal to pummel Mississippi College 104-72 in an exhibition opener Monday, with eight players scoring at least seven points.
“We shot the ball well, especially for just being in the (Cajundome) building for one day,” Marlin said. “It’s a different backdrop in here, it’s a pretty big building. I thought we shot the ball extremely well today in shooting practice, and it carried over tonight.”
What was really surprising for Marlin is that the Cajuns won by such a big margin even though they didn’t hit any of the three goals he set for them at the beginning of the game.
“The three goals were (holding them to) less than 40 percent from the field, they shoot 45,” Marlin said. “Out-rebound them by 15, we out-rebounded them by 10, then to out-free throw them, and they out-free throwed us by seven.”
The Cajuns started a little slow out of the gates. A Mississippi College 3-pointer cut the Cajuns lead down to 17-15 with 13:12 to go in the first half, but then Kasey Shepherd took over.
Shepherd, who started the game on the bench, exploded for 13 points in 3 minutes, 9 seconds to spark a Cajuns rally that turned a two-point lead into a 15-point lead. Shepherd knocked down all five of his field-goal attempts in that span, including three from beyond the arc.
The rest of his teammates caught up to him and helped the Cajuns close the half on a 36-19 run. Mississippi College got no closer than 15 points for the rest of the game.
Shawn Long was impressive in limited work, going 5-for-7 from the field to score 11 points. He also had two steals, three blocks, two assists and five rebounds in 19 minutes.
Junior-college transfers Jay Hedgeman and Tyrone Wooten turned in solid debuts with their new team that were made more memorable by a couple of rim-shattering dunks.
Hedgeman was a key part of a play worthy of SportsCenter’s Top-10 when he stole a wayward pass and fired an outlet all the way up the court for Long. Long saw Hedgeman trailing the play and sent a no-look bounce pass between his legs, which Hedgeman collected and slammed home.
Hedgeman also sank eight of nine shots from the free-throw line, showed he could extend his range back to the 3-point line, and finished with a team-high 19 points.
“Jay’s versatility, he’s able to make 3-point shots, he’s got a nice stroke,” Marlin said. “He’s very active, he came up with some steals tonight and some rebounds, he’s a very good passer and a team player, and he brings a lot of energy.”
Wooten’s big dunk was a one-handed slam on which he beat his man off the dribble on the baseline and soared high above the rim before throwing it down with authority, bringing the Cajuns fans in attendance to their feet.
“He’s got great speed, you saw his athleticism,” Marlin said.
The only player who didn’t play double-digit minutes was redshirt freshman Scott Plaisance, who fouled out in just six minutes.
CAJUNS WOMEN 95, LSU-ALEXANDRIA 48: The Cajuns women’s basketball team used the same suffocating defense it rode for much of last year to dominate LSU-Alexandria 95-48 in the Cajundome.
Junior guard Keke Veal had 10 steals in the first half, leading the way for a Cajuns team that forced 34 turnovers.
The defense set the tone, but the offense cashed in on the opportunities. Forty-seven of the Cajuns 95 points came off turnovers, with Jaylyn Gordon scoring a game-high 27 points and Veal adding 21.
The Cajuns got off to a bit of a slow start and were trailing the Generals 14-12 after six minutes.
But after two Kia Wilridge free throws tied it, the Cajuns forced turnovers on seven of LSU-A’s next nine possessions and made eight consecutive shots in the process, turning a tie game into a 34-16 advantage in a span of 156 seconds.