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Men's Basketball Are SBC Champions: Bartley Helps Lead Louisiana To SBC Title In 81-76 Win
Marlin earns career win No. 500; Cajuns wrap up road schedule at South Alabama
TROY, Ala. – Frank Bartley scored 13 of his game-high 22 points in the second half and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns withstood a late second-half rally by Troy to claim an 81-76 victory and claim a share of its first Sun Belt Conference title since 1999-2000 on Thursday at Trojan Arena.
Marcus Stroman sank four free throws in the final 28 seconds as Louisiana (24-4, 14-1 SBC) gave head coach Bob Marlin his 500th career victory in 25 seasons. Marlin, who improved to 500-274 as a head coach, went 123-35 at Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College before posting a 225-131 record at Sam Houston and 152-108 mark at Louisiana.
"A lot of hard work goes into winning a championship and you never take it for granted," Marlin said. "I was proud of our team tonight. This game should have been a little bit easier, but was missed some opportunities and Troy capitalized. They got some tough rebounds against us and (Javan) Johnson hits some 3-pointers.
"But we hung on and won defensively. I thought we were good enough down the stretch. Justin Miller gave us a boost in the second half and JaKeenan (Gant) gave us one in the first."
The win by Louisiana set a school-record for most Sun Belt Conference victories since joining the league in the 1991-92 season. The previous record of 13 was done in 1993-94, 1999-2000 and 2013-14.
Louisiana opened the game on a 7-0 run as Stroman scored on a jumper, JaKeenan Gant tipped in his own miss and Bartley sank a 3-pointer. The Ragin' Cajuns kept their lead for the majority of the first half before Troy (13-15, 7-8 SBC) tied the game at 22-22 on a 3-pointer by Juan Davis, Jr.
The Cajuns led 32-31 after a Wesley Person bucket with 3:46 remaining in the half before Gant scored five straight points with a dunk and a 3-pointer to finish with 15 points in the first half.
A jumper by Alex Hicks and consecutive 3-pointers by Johnson gave Troy its only lead of the night, 42-41, with 16:49 remaining, but Bartley converted a three-point play for a 44-42 advantage with 15:54 left and giving Louisiana the lead for good.
Louisiana took its biggest lead of the night, 70-57, on a bucket by Miller with 6:59 remaining that capped a 23-11 run. The Trojans chipped away at the lead going on an 11-0 run that was capped by an off-balanced 3-pointer by Johnson with 3:39 remaining.
Bartley, who recorded his 10th 20-point game of the season, hit an off-balanced bucket in the lane to give Louisiana a 72-68 lead with 2:02 left and the Ragin' Cajuns would get a bucket from Bryce Washington and sink seven free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Gant scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Louisiana, which finished 29-for-62 from the floor and 16-for-21 from the free throw line. Washington pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds for the Ragin' Cajuns while Miller came off the bench to add 10 points and six rebounds.
Person led Troy with 21 points with Hicks posting a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Johnson scored all 12 of his points for the Trojans in the second half while Jordon Varnado, who scored 19 points and grabbed 10 boards in an 81-69 loss to the Cajuns last month, was limited to five points and four rebounds.
Louisiana will close out its road schedule on Saturday when it faces South Alabama in a 7:05 p.m., contest from the Mitchell Center.
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