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Cajuns Outlast Arkansas State in Overtime, 68-65

ragincajuns.com

For the fourth time this season, Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns had to work overtime in a Sun Belt Conference game.

And for the third time, they came out a winner.

Just two nights after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Arkansas-Little Rock, the Cajuns survived an overtime forcing three point shot and defeated Arkansas State 68-65 before 3,918 at the Cajundome.

Louisiana (15-12, 9-4 Sun Belt) trailed in the overtime until freshman Elfrid Payton’s layup  and ensuing free throw gave Louisiana the lead for good with 2:20 to go in the extra period.  Arkansas State missed a three point shot on their next possession and Darshawn McClellan hit to more freebies to get the Cajuns lead to three at 66-63.  The Cajuns forced a turnover with :48 left, but Payton missed a ten footer, giving the Red Wolves another chance.

But Ed Townsell missed a three pointer and Brandon Peterson’s offensive putback got the Red Wolves within one with 1.5 seconds left.

Raymone Andrews was fouled with 0.7 remaining and drained both free throws for the final margin.

The Cajuns had to battle back from a five point halftime deficit and didn’t take the lead in the second half until Bryant Mbamalu’s three pointer gave Louisiana a 42-41 lead with 9:13.  That basket was part of a 12-1 run which culminated with a Raymone Andrews triple that gave the Cajuns a five point lead with 7:49 left.

Arkansas State tied the game at 49 with 4:55 left on a Brandon Peterson dunk, and after the Cajuns got a Josh Brown free throw and Andrews’ fourth triple of the game, ASU came back again on baskets by Ed Townsell and Malcolm Kirkland to draw the visitors even again with 3:01 to go.

Arkansas State took the lead on a Peterson basket, 55-54 with 1:26 left, but Mbamalu’s layup with :58 left gave the Cajuns the lead back.  Payton hit two free throws after a Marcus Hooten miss to make it a three point lead with :24 left, but Hooten buried a contested triple with :07 left in regulation to force the extra period.

The Cajuns had jumped out to an early 20-8 lead, but after closing to within nine at 27-18. the Red Wolves closed the first half on a 16-2 run to take a 34-29 lead into halftime.  The Cajuns missed six shots, two free throws and turned it over twice during the dry spell.

Mbamalu led the Cajuns with 16 points, including 3-3 from beyond the arc.  Andrews added 14, including a perfect 4-4 on trifectas.  Louisiana hit 8-12 three pointers on the night.  Darshawn McClellan added 12 points for the Cajuns.

The Cajuns hit only 7 of their first 16 free throws, but made nine of their last 12, including 6-7 in the overtime to finish at 57 percent for the game.  ASU wasn’t much better, hitting 11-18.

The Red Wolves (10-17. 4-8) were paced by Kirkland’s 16 points.  Hooten added 14 and Trey Finn chipped in 13.

After being outrebounded by ten up in Jonesboro in the first meeting between the two teams, the Cajuns had a 36-35 advantage in this game, with Kadeem Coleby leading the way with eight.  The Cajuns turned it over 14 times, three fewer than their conference average.  Arkansas State had fifteen miscues.

The Cajuns head to the road next week, facing Denver on Thursday at Magness Arena.  Gametime is scheduled for 6pm.

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