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Cajuns’ Defense Smothers ULM, 66-50

Brad Kemp/

Louisiana basketball coach Bob Marlin has frequently decried the play of his defense during the 2013-14 season.  But Saturday night, the fourth year Ragin’ Cajuns mentor had plenty of praise for that part of his team’s game.

Louisiana held UL Monroe under 40 percent shooting in both halves and pulled away from the Warhawks 66-50 before 4,685 fans at the Cajundome.

Louisiana (13-9, 4-5 Sun Belt) matched its win total from all of last season with the victory and got a measure of revenge for a 103-98 double overtime loss to ULM (7-10, 4-5) back on January 4th in Monroe.

The Warhawks led for most of the first half, taking a 20-12 lead with 7:17 left in the first stanza, before Louisiana closed the half on a 12-1 run to take a 24-21 lead into the locker room.  All twelve of the points were scored by Elfrid Payton, who made 13-14 shots from the field en route to a 28 point performance.

The Cajuns got a three point basket from Bryant Mbamalu to open the second half and increase the Cajuns lead to six points, 27-21 and ULM never got closer than four points the rest of the way. Mbamalu tied his season high with 14 points, including 2-4 from three point range–the only triples for the Cajuns on the night (2-7).  Shawn Long had a double double with 12 points and 12 rebounds as Louisiana won the rebounding battle 34-31.

The Cajuns pulled away in the second half by shooting 61.5 percent after halftime, while holding ULM to 35.7 percent after intermission.  Tyler Ongwae, who scored 27 points for the Warhawks in their January victory, tallied 16 points and eleven rebounds in defeat.  He was the only ULM player in double figures.  Jayon James, who had a double double in the game up in Monroe was held scoreless in 28 minutes of action.

The Cajuns outscored the Warhawks in the paint 50-20, with Payton and Long doing most of the damage.  The Cajuns also led in points off turnovers (11-4) and fast break points (14-4).

Louisiana will now head to Texas for their next two games.  Texas-Arlington, who dropped a 101-91 overtime game to league leader Georgia State on Saturday, will be up first this Thursday night at 7:30.

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