Men's Basketball: Cajuns 'stuck with each other' in win over South Alabama + photo gallery
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Jan. 24, 2019
It was South Alabama that was taking what UL coach Bob Marlin called the “50-50 balls” early on.
But it was the Ragin’ Cajuns who were winning the hustle plays late, and that coupled with a pair of late 3-pointers from P.J. Hardy and Cedric Russell — plus a team-high 28 points from JaKeenan Gant — lifted UL to an 88-84 Sun Belt Conference victory over the Jaguars on Thursday night at the Cajundome.
“To be honest, I thought they out-hustled us a lot,” Marlin said. “They seemed like they got a lot of breaks, and the ball would get knocked out on long rebounds.
“Late, I thought we got a couple hands on balls. Marcus (Stroman) came up with a big rebound. I think P.J. had a big steal. Jerekius Davis had a big steal in front of their bench. And then Justin (Miller) getting on that last one and coming up with it — yeah, that was big.”
Miller went to the floor for a steal with three minutes and 25 seconds remaining, then came out of a 30-second timeout and hit a jumper that made it 77-75.
UL never trailed again.
“I’m gonna do whatever it takes for the team to win — if I have come off the bench, if I have to start, if I don’t have to score,” said Miller, a usual starter who was not in the opening lineup Thursday.
“’Ke (Gant) is gonna do his thing. Marcus (Stroman) is gonna do what he does. And if we have Ced (Russell) and P.J. (Hardy) shooting the way they did tonight, I feel like we’re a very scary team in the Sun Belt.”
South Alabama did tie it at 77-77 with a jumper from Trhae Mitchell, who finished with a game-high 31 points and 12 rebounds.
But Hardy answered with a 3-pointer from the corner off a feed from Miller with 2:20 to go, and almost a minute later Russell followed with his trey from the top to make it 83-77.
The Cajuns led the rest of the way, despite missing 4-of-9 free throws in the final 20 seconds and despite South Al making it a 2-point game with three seconds to go.
Gant’s two freebies on the other end sealed it for UL, which improved to 12-7.
Hardy finished 4-of-9 from 3-point while adding 18 points, Davis had 17 while shooting 5-for-8 from the field and Russell scored 15 while going 5-of-9 on trey tries.
It was all much-needed on a 50-50 night that could have gone either.
What tipped the balance?
“We stuck with each other,” Gant said, “and we just trusted each other at the end, and trusted we were gonna make big shots and make big plays.”
AT THE HALF
UL led 41-39 after Davis hit a 3-pointer off a play initiated by a Kristian Lafayette rebound for the Cajuns, and Josh Ajayi answered with a late dunk for the Jaguars.
Mitchell had 23 of his 31 at the break for South Al, and Gant 14 for UL.
South Al shot 50 percent from the field in the opening half despite being 3-for-12 from 3-point range, and UL hit 46.7 percent including 7-of-16 on trey tries.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
A moment of silence was held before Thursday night’s game in memory of Geri Ann Glasco, the UL volunteer assistant softball coach and daughter of Cajuns head coach Gerry Glasco who died in a traffic accident early Thursday morning.
“Our team is praying for Coach Glasco and his family,” Marlin said.
“We can’t get that out of heads. It’s been a difficult day for our department and our university, and we want to continue to pray for them. This game is for Coach tonight, and fortunately we were able to win.”
Davis made his fourth start of the season, starting over Miller. … Backup point guard Trajan Wesley (ankle sprain) missed a fourth straight game. … Marlin said reserve forward Jeremy Hayes was out due to a stomach virus; Lafayette has the same illness earlier in the week.
UL plays host to Troy on Saturday night.