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Men’s Basketball: Seniors Pave The Way For Louisiana In 76-74 Win Over UTA

Marlin earns SBC win No. 118 to become league’s all-time leader

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LAFAYETTE – Cedric Russell sank a pair of tie-breaking free throws with 9.2 seconds remaining and came up with a defensive stop at the buzzer as the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Men’s Basketball team earned a thrilling 76-74 win over UT Arlington in a Sun Belt Conference game on Monday at the Cajundome.
Dou Gueye added 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds as Louisiana (15-7, 9-6 Sun Belt) overcame an 11-point deficit midway through the second half and moved into sole possession of second-place in the SBC West Division.
The win marked the 118th career victory in Sun Belt Conference play for head coach Bob Marlin, who moved past fellow Mississippi native and former Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis, Jr., as the league’s all-time leader.
Russell scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half for Louisiana, which 60-49 with 11:44 remaining before scoring eight straight points to get back into the game. Kentrell Garnett’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 11:03 left started the rally for the Ragin’ Cajuns before Russell scored on a layup and added a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 60-57.
Russell, who moved into 26th place on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,362 points, sank five 3-pointers against UTA (11-12, 7-8 Sun Belt) to increase his career total to 255 and moving past Sydney Grider (253) for second-place in Ragin’ Cajuns history.
After adding a tough jumper in the lane which cut Louisiana’s deficit to 67-65, Russell missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer, but got a second chance at giving the Ragin’ Cajuns the lead after Gueye would come down with the offensive rebound and Russell would drain his fourth 3-pointer of the night for a 68-67 lead with 4:15 left.
UTA reclaimed the lead on Nicolas Elame’s second-chance basket with 3:47 left and the Mavs would take a 74-69 lead after Sam Griffin scored with 2:30 remaining.
Russell, who finished 7-for-14 from the floor and 5 of 7 from behind the 3-point line, cut the UTA lead to 74-72 with a 3-pointer before Theo Akwuba would knot the score at 74-all after collecting a missed jumper by Mylik Wilson and tying the game with 53 seconds left.
Wilson came down with a key block on UTA’s Shahada Wells on the ensuing possession, which would also result in a shot clock violation.
Louisiana took advantage of its final opportunity on offense as Russell drove the lane and was fouled with his two free throws giving the Ragin’ Cajuns the lead. UTA’s last attempt at tying game fell short as a driving layup in the lane by Wells fell off the iron with Russell collecting the rebound.
Gueye finished 8-for-18 from the floor and grabbed four offensive rebounds as Louisiana held a 43-36 overall lead on the glass. Isaiah Richards added nine points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Ragin’ Cajuns with Wilson adding eight points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal.
Louisiana finished 23-for-56 (41.1 percent) from the floor and was 24-for-32 (75.0 percent) from the free throw line. The Ragin’ Cajuns held UTA to 27-for-68 (39.7 percent) from the floor and 8-for-23 (34.8 percent) from behind the 3-point line.
Wells scored 19 points to lead the Mavs with Griffin adding 16 points off the bench. Patrick Mwamba scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half for UTA while Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu posted a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Ragin’ Cajuns, who look to secure a first-round bye in the SBC Championships that will be played March 5-8 in Pensacola, Fla., will wrap up the regular-season beginning Friday with a two-game series at Little Rock.