A-State Holds off Cajuns, 74-71
Rashad Lindsey scored 27 points and Arkansas State held off a second half rally to edge the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 74-71 in the Sun Belt opener for both teams Saturday in Jonesboro, AR.
Lindsey shot 11-16 from the field as the Red Wolves (10-4, 1-0 Sun Belt) withstood a Cajuns rally from a double digit deficit to get the victory before just over 2,000 at the Convocation Center.
"We just weren't good enough defensively," head coach Bob Marlin said. "Lindsey broke down our guards and we didn't get enough stops."
Donte Thomas scored 12 points for Arkansas State, while Devin Carter, the leading scorer for the Red Wolves, chipped in ten.
"We did a good job on Carter," Marlin said. "But we missed three layups and missed the front end of a one-and-one twice and that did us in."
Freshman Justin Miller led the Cajuns with 16 points, while Jay Wright scored eleven of this 13 points in the second half. Bryce Washington recorded his eleventh double-double of the season with 12 points and eleven rebounds for the Cajuns (10-4, 0-1).
The Red Wolves had a 43-33 lead with 17:59 left in the second half, but the Cajuns went on a 15-3 run to take a 48-46 lead after a pair of Miller free throws with 14:10 remaining. Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the way.
A C J. Foster triple gave A-State a 72-69 lead with 3:55 remaining. Justin Miller made a pair of free throws to get the Cajuns within a point at the 3:27 mark. The Cajuns had chances in their next two possessions, but Wright missed a triple and Washington missed inside before Lindsey hit a free throw with 2:01 left to increase the lead to 73-71.
Wright missed the front end of a one and one with 1;39 remaining but the Cajuns got a stop and Wright stole the ball in the final :15 to give the Cajuns a chance. But P. J. Hardy missed the front end if a one and one with :14 left and Thomas hit a free throw for the final margin with :12 left. Washington's three point try went off the rim as the final horn sounded.
"We had a play called for Jay (Wright) in the last possession, but they called a foul before the indbounds pass and we missed the front end," Marlin said. "It was a new play we'd been working on since the (Christmas) break. We were going to go for the win, but it didn't work out."
The Cajuns stayed in the game with a 40-30 rebounding edge and outscored the Red Wolves 22-7 on second chance points.
Louisiana now heads to Little Rock for a Monday night contest to be nationally televised on ESPN2 beginning at 8 pm.