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Men’s Basketball: Rimmer, Cajuns Hold Off Chanticleers In Maui On The Mainland Final, 73-69

Brian McCann, Sports Information Director, November 24, 2013

Cajuns return home to host Northwestern State on Wednesday

Contact: Brian McCann

CONWAY, S.C. – Xavian Rimmer came off the bench to score a career-high 21 points and Shawn Long battled back from first-half foul trouble to score 16 of his 18 points in the second half as Louisiana held off a last-minute charge by host Coastal Carolina to claim a 73-69 win on Sunday afternoon in the title game of the EA Sports Maui on the Mainland Classic.

The victory improved the Cajuns to 4-2 on the year and snapped a 19-game road losing streak against non-conference opponents that dates back to the end of the 2009-10 season.

Coastal Carolina dropped to 2-4.  In the third place game, St. Francis-Brooklyn defeated Oakland, 68-62.

Elfrid Payton flirted with a triple-double for the Cajuns, scoring 13 points with nine assists and eight rebounds while Steven Wronkoski added 10 points.

Elijah Wilson led Coastal Carolina with 22 points, going 9-for-13 from the field, while Warren Gillis added 14 points and six steals and Michel Enanga added seven points and 13 rebounds.

"This was a tough one to come away with," Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin said.  "We hit enough three-point shots to open up a nice lead but then we stopped rebounding at the defensive end and turned the ball over too many times to give them opportunities."

The Cajuns built a 66-51 lead with 5:13 left before the Chanticleers fought back.

Wilson hit a 3-pointer as part of a 7-0 run that made it a 66-58 game with 4:02 left.

Rimmer answered with his sixth trey of the night, but Wilson answered with two baskets of his own as part of an 8-1 run that closed the Cajuns lead to 70-66 with 44 seconds left.

Coastal Carolina had several chances to come closer, but they missed three shots in the lane and four free throws before Payton connected on two free throws with 12 seconds left.

Still, the Chanticleers refused to quit as Josh Cameron nailed a 3-pointer with five seconds left.  The comeback fell short as Long made one of two free throws with 4.1 seconds left to seal the win.

After missing their first five 3-point attempts, Louisiana bounced back to go 12-for-26 from behind the three-point line (.462) for the game.  The Cajuns also went 14-for-20 from the field in the second half (.700) and shot .510 (26-51) from the field for the game.

Coastal Carolina was cold shooting all-around, shooting .362 from the field (25-69), .286 from behind the 3-point line (4-14) and .577 from the line (15-26).  To offset the shooting, the Chanticleers had a 45-36 rebounding edge and forced 23 Cajuns turnovers to outscore Louisiana, 24-10, in points off turnovers.

"I thought we shot the ball pretty well and we got a big boost from our bench in the first half," Marlin said. "This was like a conference road game.  The crowd was in it and Coastal gave us nothing.  We had to fight on every possession and down to the last second to win the game."

The game belonged to Rimmer, who entered the game when Louisiana was struggling in the first half and made six of his nine 3-point attempts and grabbed seven rebounds with three assists.

Long, who played less than two minutes in the first half before picking up his second foul, came to life in the second half.  He was 6-for-8 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers, seven rebounds and three blocks in 20 minutes.

"After Shawn picked up his second foul, we had a decision to make to either play him and risk him getting his third or sit him and play most of the half without him," Marlin said.  "Everybody stepped up with him on the bench and we finished the half with a nice run to take the lead.

"This was a nice trip.  The EA Sports and Maui Classic people did a great job of running the tournament.  The weather wasn’t that great, but there are a lot of happy people in the locker room right now."

Coastal Carolina looked like they might run away with the game early, scoring the first six points of the game and holding leads of 10-2 (15:58) and 14-5 (12:34) as the Cajuns made just two of its first 10 shots, including one-for-seven from behind the 3-point arc.

Most importantly, Long went to the bench after playing just two minutes and picking up a pair of fouls and did not return until the second half.

With Rimmer leading the way, the Cajuns fought back.

Back-to-back treys by Rimmer and Kevin Brown quickly made it a 14-11 game with 11:20 left.

Coastal Carolina built the lead back up toi 20-12 (7:39) on a pair of baskets inside by El Hadji Ndieguene before Rimmer rattled off five straight points and Payton added a basket off his own steal to bring the Cajuns to within 20-19 at the 6:09 mark.

The teams traded baskets before the Cajuns took a 27-24 lead on a Wronkoski 3-pointer with 2:11 left.

Louisiana added to their lead as Payton scored in heavy traffic in the lane and Wronkoski added a basket off an offensive rebound with one second left as the Cajuns took a 31-24 lead into the locker room.

Long scored the first six points of the second stanza to help the Cajuns jump out to an 11-point lead just two minutes into the second half.  The lead would be no less than six until the final minute.

The Cajuns come home this week to host defending Southland Conference Tournament champion Northwestern State on Wednesday (Nov. 27) beginning at 7 p.m. in the Cajundome.