Cajuns Fall Short Against North Texas, 65-62
After winning their first two games against North Texas this season, Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns knew they were going to be in a battle with the Mean Green in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference basketball tournament.
This time it was North Texas with the late game heroics.
Brandan Walton’s three point basket from the right wing with eight seconds remaining was the game winner as fifth-seeded North Texas eliminated the #4 Ragin’ Cajuns from the tournament, 65-62.
It was a game where neither team had more than a five point lead throughout, and both teams used balanced scoring to remain in the game.
Alzee Williams’ jumper gave the Mean Green a 60-59 lead with 2:22 to go, but Darshawn McClellan counntered with a layup and free throw to give the Cajuns their final lead at 62-60 with 2:07 to go.
Kadeem Coleby got a steal for the Cajuns on the ensuing possession, but Bryant Mbamalu had his layup blocked by Roger Franklin with 1:39 left. Williams’ tied the game with a layup with 1:31 remaining.
McClellan had his inside shot blocked by Tony Mitchell with 1:14 left, but got the ball back when Mbamalu rebounded Jacob Holmen’s miss with a minute to go.
Freshman Elfrid Payton who had quite a night for the Cajuns with 13 points, eight rebounds and nine assists and five steals, drove the lane, but Mitchell got another block to set the stage for Walton’s heroics.
Walton’s 16 points, including three triples, led the Mean Green (17-13). Williams added 14 points, and Jacob Holmen and Roger Franklin had ten each.
Mitchell, the league’s Freshman of the year, scored only five points, but had eleven rebounds and six blocked shots.
Josh Brown, playing his final game for the Cajuns (16-15) , led the Vermilion and White with 14 points. Payton added 13, Mbamalu eleven and McClellan ten.
North Texas now advances to the semifinals to take on ninth-seed Arkansas State, who upset #1 Middle Tennessee 64-61 in the other early semifinal.