LAFAYETTE – Fully illustrating the control Louisiana-Lafayette had in a 80-54 win against Texas State was the fact that the Bobcats had only one more rebound as a team (15) than Shawn Long had individually (14) when the Cajuns big man checked out with 3:39 to go.
From a knockdown 3-pointer by Jay Wright to start to the first career points from Elijah McGuire to finish, the Cajuns (10-8, 6-3) took it to the visitors from Texas State (9-8, 3-5). They stayed undefeated at home, where they still have two games of a five-game home stand remaining, and pushed their winning streak to five games.
“The guys are very comfortable together,” said coach Bob Marlin. “We’re turning into a basketball team, we’ve got guys who care about each other. … We’re on a little bit of a roll and everybody is following our game plan to a T.”
Long finished with a game-high 19 points to go along with his 14 rebounds. He’d already posted his 65th career double-double with three minutes and change to go in the first half.
“Just another day at the office for him,” Marlin said.
But as has been the case during the winning streak, it was the contributions from other players that stood out in contrast to the consistent excellence from Long.
Reserve forward Devonta Walker, who had not reached double figures scoring in more than two calendar months, had 16 points on a perfect shooting night from both the field (4-for-4) and the free throw line (8-for-8).
Wright knocked down a pair of triples, including one double-clutch prayer that came when he realized he had just a tick left on the shot clock that banged home off the glass. Beyond that, Wright snared eight rebounds and handed out seven assists.
Not evident in the box score was the harrying defensive effort by the Cajuns defenders. Emani Gant and Ethan Montalvo, who entered the game averaging 25.1 points per game between them, managed just nine points on 4-of-14 shooting.
“I thought we were active (defensively),” Marlin said.
The Cajuns never trailed in the game, and they were firmly in control when they took a 14-point lead with them to the locker room at the halftime break.
The only thing even somewhat holding the Cajuns back was themselves. They were careless with the ball in the early going, committing seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game.
The Cajuns got it done on both ends of the floor in the opening 20 minutes, holding the Bobcats without a 3-point field goal while knocking down 59.1 percent of their own shots.
Walker played his best early in the game. Bryce Washington was sent to the bench early with a pair of fouls, and Walker made the most of his 12 minutes.
He drove hard to the lane twice, finishing once with his left and once with his right. He scored 10 of his 16 points in the first half, looking very much like the player who averaged 9.4 points for the Cajuns a year ago.
The Cajuns will face UT-Arlington, whom they currently have a half-game lead on for second place in the conference, Saturday afternoon at the Cajundome.