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Payton Layup in OT Gives Cajuns Win Over WKU

Elfrid Payton courtesy ragincajuns.comIt is said the sixth man in college basketball is so very important.

I don’t think what happened in Bowling Green, KY last night was what those pundits had in mind.

Freshman Elfrid Payton hit a layup with just over three seconds to go in overtime last night to give Louisiana a 72-70 win over Western Kentucky at E. A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.

And, they did it with six men on the court.

After a three point basket by Derrick Gordon of WKU tied the game at 70 with 24 seconds left, the Cajuns called timeout with just over twenty seconds remaining.  J. J. Thomas, who had to be removed from the game earlier with a back injury, checked in for Kadeem Coleby for the final possession.

But Coleby never came out of the game.

It may not have mattered.  Payton controlled the ball during the entire possession, nearly losing the ball out of bounds before driving to the basket and hitting the game winner.  He was the only player to touch the ball on the last possession.

Khalil McDonald’s desperation three pointer from near midcourt missed at the final horn.

Roger Ayers, Reinaldo Acosta and Brad Gaston, the three officials from the Sun Belt Conference who officiated the game, never noticed the Cajuns had six men on the court.  Neither did the two coaching staffs.

The faux pas was brought to the officials’ attention after the final horn sounded.  Two of the officials conferred briefly, but since the play was not reviewable according to NCAA rules, the officials left the court.

The Cajuns (8-8, 2-0 Sun Belt) fought through twenty turnovers to get the win.  Western Kentucky had only nine turnovers and didn’t commit their first turnover in the second half until less than a minute remained in regulation.  They had one turnover during the overtime and just nine for the game.

The Cajuns trailed by seven points early in the game, but battled back to take a one point lead at the intermission, 27-26.  Neither team shot over 31 percent in the first half of play.

The Cajuns took their biggest lead at seven points with just under ten minutes to play in the second half, but the Hilltoppers used a 9-0 run to take a 62-59 lead with a minute to go.  Kadeem Coleby’s dunk with 51 seconds remaining got the Cajuns within one point and after a defensive stop, Louisiana’s Elfrid Payton made one of two free throws with 6.9 seconds left to tie the game.

Jamal Crook, who scored eighteen points, missed a shot at the end of regulation.

The Cajuns trailed 67-65 in the overtime, but Darshawn McClellan hit a triple to give the Cajuns a one point lead with 1:31 left.  Payton followed with a steal and layup to give the Cajuns the three point lead before Gordon’s three pointer tied the game.

J. J. Thomas led the Cajuns’ effort with 19 points and nine rebounds.  Raymone Andrews added sixteen for the Cajuns, who shot 44 percent from the floor, nearly 60% after intermission.

Gordon had 2o points for the Hilltoppers (5-11, 1-2).  Crook added 18, Mc Donald 12 and Vinny Zollo had ten in the losing effort.

It was the first win for the Cajuns in Diddle Arena since 2004, when they defeated the Hilltoppers 110-102 on their way to the Sun Belt Championship.

Sun Belt Associate Commissioner John McElwain said after the game that Supervisor of Officials Mike Wood would review the game tape and the Conference office would take the appropriate action.  He said the action would probably be handled internally.

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