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Cajuns Fall in Overtime to UALR 72-70

Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns missed a golden opportunity to move into first place in the Sun Belt West last night, falling to Arkansas-Little Rock in overtime at the Cajundome 72-70 before a season high crowd of 4, 125.

The Cajuns battled back from a 12 point first half deficit to lead by three at the half, and then battled again from seven down after intermission to grab a 61-57 lead with 2:25 to go in regulation.

Louisiana still led by 3, 61-58 after a Courtney Jackson free throw with 1:15 to go.  Freshman Elfrid Payton then made one of two free throws to make it a two possession game with :47 left.

After Will Neighbor missed a three pointer, Payton made one of two again to push the lead back to five with :38 remaining.  UALR missed on the ensuing possession, but Bryant Mbamalu was called for a foul as the ball was going out of bounds.  D’Andre Williams, who led all scorers with 24 points, made one of two free throws to cut the lead to four with :19 left.

But Payton missed two free throws, leaving UALR with an opportunity.  Williams missed a jumper, but the rebound went out of bounds off the hands of a Cajun.  Will Neighbour then drilled a three pointer from the left wing to bring the Trojans within one, 63-62.  Mbamalu made two freebies a second later to put the Cajuns up by three, but Chuck Guy nailed a three pointer with under a second remaining to force the extra period.

UALR never trailed in the overtime.

Williams and Michael Javes each scored for the Trojans to give them a four point lead, 69-65.  After a Mbamalu free throw, Kadeem Coleby got a dunk to cut the lead to one with 1:27 to go.  The Cajuns got the ball back, but Payton’s inside shot went in and out with under a minute to go.  Williams missed a jumper with :19 left, but Guy got a steal from Payton with :10 left and made one of two free throws to push the lead to two.  J. J. Thomas’ three point shot was short in the final seconds.  Thomas appeared to be fouled on the shot, but the whistle did not blow and UALR had the big win.

The Cajuns (14-12, 8-4 Sun Belt) held UALR to 38% shooting and just 2-8 on three point attempts until the final two shots of regulation.  Louisiana shot 40.4% for the game, but missed fourteen free throws in the contest.

Coleby led Louisiana with 18 points, Thomas added 13.  Neighbour joined Williams in double figures with 14 points, as did Guy.  Courtney Jackson added 11 for the Trojans (12-13, 9-2).

The Cajuns outrebounded UALR 43-37.  Thomas and Payton each had nine to lead the Cajuns, while Coleby added eight and Mbamalu seven.  Jackson had nine boards to pace the Trojans.

The overtime loss was the first for the Cajuns in four overtime games this year and the first in two seasons under head coach Bob Marlin (5-1).

Louisiana now faces Arkansas State Saturday night at 7:15 at the Cajundome.  UALR heads to Murfressboro to face league-leading Middle Tennessee at noon Saturday on ESPN2.

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