Cajuns Outlast Cougars in OT, 79-76
Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns overcame a ten point lead in the second half and worked an extra five minutes before taking a hard earned 79-76 overtime win against the Houston Cougars Saturday night at the Cajundome before 3,069 fans.
Elfrid Payton led the Cajuns (7-3) with 31 points, while Shawn Long scored a double double with 22 points and twelve rebounds.
TaShawn Thomas led the Cougars with 27 points on 10-14 shooting. Danrad Knowles added sixteen points and Brandon Morris had thirteen for Houston (7-4).
The Cajuns took a 21-19 lead on a Kasey Shepherd three pointer with just over nine minutes left in the first half, but the Cougars went on a 10-0 run over the next four and a half minutes to lead 29-21 with 4:50 left. Houston took an eight point lead into the locker room, 40-32 on a Jherrod Stiggers three pointer with 30 seconds left in the half.
Houston shot a blistering 72.7% in the first half (16-22), including a perfect 3-3 from three point range.
Houston increased its lead to 45-35 with 18:50 left, but Steven Wronkoski and Kevin Brown hit triples on consecutive possessions and Elfrid Payton got a putback and a layup to tie the score at 45 with 16:09 left.
The Cajuns got their first lead of the second half when a Shawn Long dunk with 11:41 to go gave Louisiana a 52-51 lead, and the Cajuns increased the lead to 60-55 with 8:48 left. Louisiana had its biggest lead of the game 64-57 following a Shepherd triple with 5:45 left, but Thomas scored six of Houston's next eight points to get the Cougars within two with 2:15 to go, and a dunk by Stiggers tied the game at 1:47. Payton hit one of two free throws to give the Cajuns the lead with :54 left, but two Thomas free throws got the lead back for the Cougars.just one second later.
Stiggers missed a three pointer after a Long miss and Houston got the offensive rebound, but a Steven Wronkoski steal with ten seconds left got the ball back. Payton drove to the basket and was fouled with 2.9 seconds remaining. He made the first, but missed the second and the teams headed to overtime.
A jumper by Long, a layup by Payton and a three point basket by Xavian Rimmer got the Cajuns up by seven. 76-69 with 2:05 to go. A Danrad Knowles layup finally got Houston's first points of the overtime with 1:03 to play. The teams traded free throws to make it 77-72 with :46 left. But Payton missed two free throws with :39 left and a Jaaron Simmons layup made it a one possession game with :32 to go. Long then missed two free throws and Thomas hit a dunk with :13 left to cut the lead to one.
Payton hit two free throws one second later to give the Cajuns a 79-76 lead. Houston's final chance hit the back of the iron on a Stiggers missed three pointer, giving the Cajuns the win.
On a night when the Cajuns retired jersey #20 in honor of Jerry Flake, the all time leading free throw shooter in school history (84.7 percent), the Cajuns made just 15-26 in the second half and overtime including just 4-7 in the extra period to keep the game close.
The Cajuns defense held Houston to just 38 percent shooting after intermission and forced Houston into a season high 20 turnovers, four over their previous high.
The Cajuns, winners of five of their last six games, will wrap up a two game homestand Tuesday night against Centenary.