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Men’s Basketball: Daigle’s 17 Lifts Cajuns to 63-58 Win (photo gallery included)

Randell Daigle scored a career-high-tying 17 points Thursday night vs. North Texas.
Randell Daigle scored a career-high-tying 17 points Thursday night vs. North Texas.  
Basketball-M  02/28/2008  Courtesy RaginCajuns.com
  LAFAYETTEIn a reversal of recent series misfortunes, sophomore Randell Daigle (Lafayette, La.) torched North Texas for a career-high-tying 17 points again as the Ragin’ Cajuns kept their hopes for a Sun Belt Conference West Division title alive with a 63-58 victory Thursday night at the CAJUNDOME.

In the January meeting between the teams in Denton, Daigle also scored 17 points, including four three-point field goals, but fouled out in the game’s last four minutes.

Louisiana (14-14, 10-7 Sun Belt) remains in a tie with UALR for first place in the West Division. The Trojans, who control their own destiny, need to lose Saturday, while the Cajuns need to defeat Denver in order for UL to earn the outright division title.

North Texas (18-10, 9-8 Sun Belt) suffered its first loss to the Cajuns in the last five meetings. Louisiana is now 9-1 against the Mean Green at the CAJUNDOME.

Travis Bureau (Gonzales, La.) added 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting, while David Dees (Dayton, Ohio) chipped in 11 points. Quincy Williams paced the Mean Green with 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Adam McCoy added 14 points, while the Cajuns held reigning SBC Player of the Week Collin Dennis to nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.

NT started the second stanza with an 8-4 spurt to close the Cajuns margin to three points.  UL countered with a 6-2 surge to reclaim a seven-point lead, 44-37, at 13:38.

David Dees contributed five straight points to help the Cajuns take a 12-point lead with 9:10 remaining.

A triple by Adam McCoy cut the Cajuns lead down to seven, 56-49, with 4:22 to play.  The Mean Green proceeded to score five of the game’s next six points to drop the Cajuns lead to three points with 90 seconds left.

Brandon Dison made two free throws at 1:24 to give the Cajuns some breathing room, but a free throw by Kedrick Hogans and then a jumper by McCoy made the score 60-58 in favor of UL with only 21.5 seconds remaining.

The Cajuns were able get the ball in to Daigle, who made one from the stripe with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. Daigle would later add two more freebies in the final 10 seconds to seal the five-point victory.

A late first half surge helped the Cajuns take a seven-point lead at the break.  UL shot 48 percent, compared to only 33 percent by the Mean Green.  NT stayed close thanks to 10 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

The Cajuns jumped out to an early 12-7 lead.  All five starters scored in succession for UL.  North Texas came back to tie the game at 19-19 with 5:24 to play.

The game remained tied with less than two minutes remaining in the first half until the Cajuns went on a 10-3 run to close the first stanza.

Two free throws by Elijah Millsap started the run.  Daigle and Bureau drained triples on back-to-back possessions before Dees converted a lay-up at the buzzer.

Louisiana will conclude the regular season with the hopes of clinching the Sun Belt Conference West Division title on its home floor Saturday night when it hosts the Denver Pioneers. The Ragin’ Cajuns will honor its three-player senior class – Maurice Barksdale, David Dees and Abray Milson – prior to Saturday night’s game. In addition, the first 5,000 fans to enter the ‘DOME will receive a free white t-shirt from The6thman.net as part of the “White Out” promotion.

NORTH TEXAS 58
McCoy, Adam 4-12 3-4 14; Williams, Quincy 4-9 2-4 10; Dennis, Collin 3-11
2-4 9; Stewart, Harold 2-4 2-4 6; White, Josh 1-12 4-4 6; Bell, Ben 2-6 0-6
4; Howerton, Justin 2-2 0-2 4; Wooden, Keith 1-2 0-0 2; Hogans, Kedrick 1-2
0-0 2; Thompson, Tristan 0-1 1-3 1. Totals 20-61 14-31 58.
LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE 63
Daigle, Randell 5-9 3-4 17; Bureau, Travis 4-8 2-3 12; Dees, David 2-8 7-10
11; Gradnigo, Chris 4-10 0-0 8; Johnson, Tyren 2-4 0-0 5; Wallace, Courtney
1-3 1-2 3; Dison, Brandon 0-0 2-2 2; Millsap, Elijah 0-1 2-2 2; Gary,
La’Ryan 0-0 2-2 2; Milson, Abray 0-1 1-2 1; Lago, Willie 0-3 0-0 0. Totals
18-47 20-27 63.
Halftime: UL 34, NT 27. 3-point goals-North Texas 4-15 (McCoy, Adam 3-7; Dennis, Collin 1-3; White,
Josh 0-4; Bell, Ben 0-1), Louisiana-Lafayette 7-19 (Daigle, Randell 4-6;
Bureau, Travis 2-3; Johnson, Tyren 1-3; Lago, Willie 0-2; Gradnigo, Chris
0-2; Dees, David 0-3). A-3684

www.RaginCajuns.com

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Stayin’ alive: Cajuns remain in hunt for West title

The hopes and dreams of winning a Sun Belt Conference West Division championship live on for UL.

Coming off a frustrating home loss to Arkansas-Little Rock, the Ragin’ Cajuns held North Texas to a season low in points Thursday night during a 63-58 win at the Cajundome.

"Defensively, I thought our guys were outstanding," said UL coach Robert Lee, whose Cajuns ended a four-game losing streak to the reigning conference tournament champions. "Our perimeter guys really did a great job. I was really proud to see what they did tonight."

The win kept UL (14-14 overall, 10-7 SBC) atop the West Division with UALR – which beat Denver, 66-55, on Thursday – with one game left in the regular season. The Cajuns can clinch a share of their first division crown since the 2003-04 season with a win Saturday over Denver.

With a win over Denver and a UALR loss Saturday to UL Monroe, the Cajuns would win the West outright and earn the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

UL sophomore Randell Daigle tied a career high with 17 points and four 3-pointers as the Cajuns avenged a seven-point loss to UNT on Jan. 12. Freshman Travis Bureau scored 12 points and senior David Dees finished with 11 points and six rebounds in his first game back since suffering a groin injury two weeks ago.

"We played as a team and shared the basketball," Daigle said. "Nobody was selfish tonight."

Dees provided a major lift on both ends of the floor as UL improved to 6-2 when at least three players score in double figures.

"It was great to have him back," Lee said of Dees. "He’s a guy who can get in the lane and draw fouls."

And Dees delivered when he got to the line. The senior made 7-of-10 free throws to set the tone for the Cajuns, who went 20-for-27 at the stripe.

UNT (18-10, 9-8) out-rebounded UL by 18, but struggled shooting the ball all night, making only 14-of-31 free throws and shooting 32.8 percent from the floor. The Mean Green’s top two scorers – freshman Josh White and junior Collin Dennis – shot a combined 4-of-23 from the floor for 15 points.

White, who starred at Christian Life Academy in Baton Rouge, finished 1-of-12 for six points. The reigning conference player of the week, Dennis went 3-of-11 for nine points.

Senior Ben Bell went 0-of-6 on free throws as UNT missed six of nine at the line in the final four minutes. Adam McCoy led the Mean Green with 14 points, while Quincy Williams posted his third straight double-double with 15 rebounds and 10 points.

"We concentrated on all their shooters," Daigle said. "Tonight we focused on taking them off the 3-point line."

Lee liked the fight he saw in his undersized team against the top scoring team in the Sun Belt.

"Tonight we shot (free throws) just well enough to get the win," Lee said. "I think our defensive pressure wore (UNT) out and made them more tired."

UNT struggled offensively in the first half despite its significant size advantage, missing several easy shots near the basket. Lacking the bulk to bang inside, UL lit it up from the perimeter by hitting 6-of-11 from beyond the 3-point line to take a 34-27 halftime lead.

"We played well, especially defensively, in the first half to be able to hold the top scoring team in the conference like we did," Dees said. "That’s a good defensive job on our part."

The Mean Green used a 6-0 run early in the second half to pull within three, but UL held strong to maintain the lead behind the play of Dees. The senior scored five straight points midway through the second half to spark a 10-3 run that gave the Cajuns a 54-42 lead with 5:46 left.

UNT cut it to two with 21 seconds left on Adam McCoy’s jumper, but Daigle hit three free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

The next challenge: Beat Denver on Saturday with a championship up for grabs.

"We have an opportunity to share a championship," said Lee, whose Cajuns suffered a 63-44 loss at Denver on Feb. 10. "We definitely have to come out and play well and really take the fight to those guys."

Daily Advertiser, February 29, 2008