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Men’s Basketball: UL ‘s OT thriller filled with hidden gems

The Advertiser, February 3, 2016



Kasey Shepherd knocks down a 3-pointer during UL’s overtime victory against ULM at the Cajundome.(Photo: Scott Clause/The Advertiser)


That was fun.

UL’s 72-65 overtime win over ULM on Tuesday at the Cajundome was one of those games.

You know, one of those games that you go to school or work the next day and say, “Did you see that game last night?”

So many of the Cajuns’ home wins this season have been of the blowout variety, so there were many chances for such a conversation most of the season.

This one had everything you’d want in a rivalry game — intense competition, big momentum swings, exciting runs and for the home team anyway, a winning finish.

Too bad it was on a wet Tuesday evening and not on a Saturday night.

Still, it was the kind of game you want to win your 100th at a school, like coach Bob Marlin did with the Cajuns on Tuesday.

For the record, that’s seven wins in a row now for Marlin’s squad, which now heads to Appalachian State on Thursday seeking an eighth straight win.

While many fans will mostly likely be detailing Shawn Long’s monster 28-point, 17-rebound effort in Tuesday’s win, there were several other players and moments in the win that might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Most of them came just before or during the Cajuns’ thrilling 15-0 second-half run that got the Cajundome crowd of 3,749 standing and cheering. In other words, creating memories for a stretch drive that’s beginning to resemble the 11-game winning streak Marlin’s first Cajun team enjoyed.

The first one came with 10:15 left in the game. At the time, the Warhawks were having their way with the Cajuns’ defense. ULM was leading 52-41 and the Cajuns were in a funk offensively.

Majok Deng drives to the basket for what looked to be a layup — and a 13-point lead — along the left baseline. Instead he altered his plan of attack to a highlight-film degree of difficulty, attempting a reverse dunk that was missed.

Shawn Long taking the ball to the basket as UL basketball

Shawn Long taking the ball to the basket as UL basketball host rare Tuesday SBC doubleheader taking on ULM in the Cajundome. Feb. 2, 2016. (Photo: Scott Clause, The Advertiser)

ULM coach Keith Richard couldn’t believe his eyes and let Deng know it as the Johnathan Stove went to the line for two free throws on the subsequent position.

But seemingly the damage had been done. No one knows what would have happened if Deng had scored, but five minutes later, the Cajuns were polishing off a 19-2 run to really get the home crowd on their side.

The second series of plays that shouldn’t be forgotten in the win begin with 7:32 left and the Cajuns at the line trailing 54-46. The Cajuns missed one of seven free throws on the night, but Jay Hedgeman hustled for an offensive rebound to create a new UL possession.

That new possession fittingly ended at 7:23 with Hedgeman nailing a line-drive, 3-pointer from the left corner to narrow ULM’s lead to 54-49.

It may have been only nine seconds, but it turned the game around.

“It ignited us,” Marlin said.

The final boxscore said that Hedgeman scored three points with four rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes. Those who paid closer attention know his contribution was much greater than those numbers detail.

Kasey Shepherd followed a missed 3-pointer with a driving layup and the crowd was now getting into a frenzy at 54-51.

About three minutes later, another big stretch took place. Like Hedgeman, Hayward Register’s stat line may not have been glittering, but this 20-second stretch certainly was.

With UL now up 55-54 on the back end of this impressive run, helped out by ULM finally missed a few 3-pointers, Marlin said the Cajuns designed a play for Register, who responded by draining a 3 at 5:04 for a 58-54 lead.

Then 20 seconds left, Register turned a steal into a driving layup for a 60-54 lead.

“I thought Hayward played great defense tonight,” Marlin said.

Speaking deceiving stat lines, Stove and Shepherd both were credited with helping to slow down ULM sharpshooter Justin Roberson and Nick Coppola in the second half when the Warhawks were threatening to run away and hide.

“Without that, we wouldn’t have won,” Marlin said.

In fact, it was that strong defense late — or simply UL’s depth wearing out ULM’s six-man rotation — that allowed the Cajuns to overcome three straight unproductive offensive possessions with the lead in overtime.

Sometimes that can cost you in such an intense game. On this night, it simply added to the drama.

If you like effort, the Cajuns gave it in Tuesday’s doubleheader. The women outrebounded ULM by 20 and the men by 21. That’s a total of 41.

Those are numbers worth remembering.