The Ragin’ Cajuns Men’s Basketball team had their 17-game home win streak snapped on Saturday night in the regular-season finale, losing 72-61 to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans on “Senior Night” in an overtime nail-biter.
The game was a low-scoring, gritty affair, as both teams scored a combined seven points in the first seven minutes of the contest. The first half was tightly contested and featured numerous lead changes. Thus, Louisiana had to lean on its defense to stay in the game. They shot just 34 percent from the field in the first half and the second half featured more of the same, until the waning moments of regulation.
The Ragin’ Cajuns were down two points, 53-51, with less than 10 seconds remaining before Malik Marquetti drew a foul on an offensive rebound. Marquetti would then sink two late free throws to send the game into overtime.
Then, Louisiana ran out of good fortune. The Ragin’ Cajuns made just two of their 13 overtime shots. At the 1:51 mark in overtime, forward Bryce Washington converted on a three-point play to pull Louisiana within two points, 63-61, but Little Rock then went on a 9-0 run to finish the game. Louisiana was outscored 19-8 in overtime in route to their first loss at the Cajundome since Feb. 11, 2017, their fifth overall loss of the year and 2nd of conference play.
Trojans guard Ryan Pippins nailed a pair of clutch three pointers in overtime, during which he scored 10 of his game-high 19 points. Oliver Black and Kris Bankston chipped in 17 and 14 points respectively for the Trojans.
Louisiana’s leading scorers were JaKeenan Gant and Frank Bartley with 17 points each. Gant also had a career-high seven blocked shots. No other Ragin’ Cajun reached double figures in scoring, as the team struggled to score throughout most of the contest. The team’s point total, 61, is tied for their second-lowest of the year. Marcus Stroman led the team with eight assists, and no other Ragin’ Cajun had more than one.
Louisiana shot 32.8 percent (19 out of 58) on field goals. They made just six of their 31 three-point attempts on the night (19.4 percent).
Washington is now ranked second all-time in total rebounds for the Ragin’ Cajuns, tallying 14 total on the game to add to his 1077 career total. He moves ahead of former Ragin’ Cajun Roy Ebron, who had 1064 rebounds from 1970-73.
As outright Sun Belt Conference champions, the Ragin’ Cajuns now look ahead to the Sun Belt Tournament from March 7 to March 11 in New Orleans, Louisiana. They are the #1 seed for the tournament, and have clinched a first-round bye. Louisiana will meet either Coastal Carolina or Texas State in the quarterfinals on March 9. Winning the conference tournament will guarantee Louisiana a trip to the NCAA Tournament.