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Men's Basketball: Cajuns Claim Outright Title; Bench Leads Louisiana To 88-71 Win Over Jags
Davis scores career-high 20 points; Cajuns put game away with 17-0 second half run
MOBILE, Ala. – Jerekius Davis came off the bench to score 18 of his career-high 20 points in the first half and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns tied a school-record with its 25th victory of the season in claiming an 88-71 win over South Alabama in a Sun Belt Conference men's basketball game on Saturday at the Mitchell Center.
Johnathan Stove and P.J. Hardy combined for 24 points off the bench as Louisiana (25-4, 15-1 SBC) won its fifth straight game and claimed its first outright SBC title since the 1999-2000 season. The Ragin' Cajuns snapped a four-game losing streak to South Alabama (14-15, 7-9 SBC) in Mobile and improved Louisiana's record on the road to 10-3 – one win off the single-season record set in 1971-72.
Davis scored 14 straight points for Louisiana in the first half, helping the Ragin' Cajuns erase an eight-point deficit. The sophomore gave the Ragin' Cajuns a 23-22 lead with 8:57 remaining in the first half before adding his third 3-pointer of the night that tied the game at 33-33 with 2:42 left.
South Alabama took a 43-42 lead when Nick Davis buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key, but Louisiana would take the lead for good when Malik Marquetti drained a halfcourt shot at the buzzer for a 45-43 lead at the break.
Louisiana upped its lead to 52-43 after JaKeenan Gant sank one of two free throws with 17:37 remaining, but the Jaguars would rally to tie the game at 56-56 on an inside bucket by Rozelle Nix.
But Louisiana would put the game away with a 17-0 run beginning with a Frank Bartley 3-pointer that gave the Ragin' Cajuns a 59-56 lead. Marcus Stroman and Stove each sank a pair of free throws for the Ragin' Cajuns, who finished 30-for-35 (85.7 percent) from the free throw line overall and 18-for-20 in the second half.
Stove, who scored 16 points on 5 of 7 shooting, added a dunk and a layup for Louisiana before Bartley and Stroman combined to sink six free throws over the next 30 seconds.
Bartley added 17 points for Louisiana, increasing his Ragin' Cajuns career total to 992 points. Bryce Washington notched his 12th double-double of the season for Louisiana and 37th of his career with 11 points and 13 rebounds with Gant adding nine points and three blocks and Hardy eight points.
Davis led South Alabama with 20 points, going 6-for-9 from behind the 3-point line. Rodrick Sikes added 14 points for the Jaguars, who were outscored 43-28, in the second half.
Louisiana will close out the regular-season with a pair of games at the Cajundome. The Ragin' Cajuns will host Arkansas State on Thursday (March 1) before hosting Little Rock (March 3) on Senior Day.
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