Cajuns Blast Arkansas State for Fifth Straight Win, 85-67
Elfrid Payton scored 22 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out seven assists and notched six steals as Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns won their fifth straight game, defeating Arkansas State 85-67 before 4.223 at the Cajundome.
Bryant Mbamalu scored eighteen of his nineteen points in the second half to spark the Cajuns while sophomore Shawn Long scored sixteen points, which put him over the 1,000 point mark in his young career.
Louisiana (17-9, 8-5 Sun Belt) also got a solid performance from J. J. Davenport. The Abbeville junior scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds. He added two assists, a blocked shot and a steal in 23 minutes of action.
Arkansas State (14-9, 7-5) used a 12-0 run over a 5:12 span to open up a 15-4 lead with 12:04 to go in the first half. But the Cajuns came back with an 8-2 run of their own to cut the lead to 17-12 with 8?53 to go until halftime. With the score 22-18, Long nailed a three pointer and Mbamalu scored his only point of the first half to tie the game at 22. The two teams played even the remainder of the first half and went into the locker room at 32-all.
Arkansas State took its final lead, 41-40 with 17:35 left after Kirk Van Slyke made four free throws following technical fouls against Davenport and Mbamalu. But the Cajuns responded as Mbamalu and Payton hit layups, Payton hit a free throw, Long drilled a three, Mbamalu hit a layup and a three pointer and Davenport scored on a jumper to cap a 15-0 run which gave the Cajuns a commanding 55-41 lead with 13:55 to go. The Red Wolves got to within seven on an Ed Townsel layup, 61-54 but that's as close as A-State would get the rest of the way.
Melvin Johnson III led Arkansas State with 19 points. Kendrick Washington also scored 19 and Townsel chipped in 13. Van Slyke, the Red Wolves leading scorer, was held to just one field goal in 25 minutes of action.
The Cajuns hit 59.4 of their field goals in the second half to finish at 52.5% for the game. Arkansas State was 21-51 from the field for 41.2 percent.
The Cajuns had a commanding 40-23 edge in rebounding, with Long leading the way with eleven. Mbamalu added eight and Payton chipped in with six. The Cajuns outscored the Red Wolves 44-24 in the paint and led in second chance points, 21-6.
The Cajuns will try to close out the three game homestand with another win Thursday night when they entertain Troy, who upset first place Georgia State Saturday night.