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Trojans rally late to hand Cajuns 73-68 loss

  www.ragincajuns.com – Five players reached double figures, including a double-double from J.J. Thomas, but it was not enough as UALR skirted by Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, 73-68, in Little Rock, Ark. on Saturday Night.

It was a career night for Thomas who finished with 11 points and a personal-best 16 rebounds. It was the second straight double-double for the Opelousas native.

David Perez joined him in double figures with a team-high 15 points, including a 5-for-8 effort from beyond the arc. Randell Daigle chipped in 13 and is now just 17 points shy of 1,000 points in his career. Travis Bureau  had 12 points and Scottie Farrington posted 10..

Just minutes in the game there were three lead changes and three ties as UL (3-14, 1-5 SBC) held a slim 10-8 lead at the 15:34 mark.

The Cajuns then proceeded to hit five of their next seven attempts, including a three-pointer from Perez, to lead 21-17 with 12:04 left in the half.

A 7-1 run quickly put the Cajuns up by double figures at the 9:47 mark, 28-18.

But the Trojans (11-9, 3-2 SBC) erased the deficit, rattling off an 11-2 run of their own, and pulled to within one with 5:40 left in the half, 30-29. During the run, UL was held without a field goal for nearly four minutes. The only points were scored from the charity stripe.

A jumper from Farrington at the 5:06 mark put the Cajuns ahead by three. It would be the last field goal for the Cajuns for nearly another five minutes. UALR took advantage and turned in a 14-3 run reclaim a 43-35 lead with one minute to go.

Perez buried another trey in the final 27 seconds to lessen the shortfall, 43-38, before halftime.

It took just 2:36 into the second half for UL to knot the score back up, 45-45, as Daigle hit a three-point basket and capped off a 7-2 start.

Perez followed with a three of his own to put the Cajuns back out in front 48-45 at 14:51.

Over the next five minutes the lead changed hands four times but still remained in favor of UL, 54-52.

The Cajuns pulled away by as much as six points, but UALR made it a one-point game on two occasions. Thomas gave UL some breathing room after hitting free throw to give UL a 63-59 lead with 7:00 to go.

But after a 6-0 run from the home team, UL found itself behind, 65-63, with under five minutes to go.

Over the next two-and-a-half minutes neither team could score. UALR broke the stalemate after making a free throw and holding a 66-63 edge with 2:39 left.

Bureau cut into that edge after making a lay-up at 1:42 to bring the Cajuns back to within one, 66-65.

But the Trojans responded with 1:06 left, hitting a three-pointer to make it a two possession game.

Perez hit his fifth trey of the night to make it, 71-68, with 17.5 seconds on the clock and a defensive stop gave it back to UL with 13.2 remaining.

But a three-point attempt missed its mark. UALR knocked down two freebies to make the final score.

UL finished the game shooting 39.7 percent (25-63) compared to the 36.8 percent of UALR (21-57).

But UALR won the battle from the free throw line connecting on 24 of 33 attempts (72.7 percent) compared to UL’s 11 of 19 effort (57.9 percent).

 UALR outscored the Cajuns 24-11 at the free throw line.  The Trojans had 33 attempts to 19 for the Cajuns.

The Cajuns will now jump out of Sun Belt play for the last this season as Centenary comes to the Cajundome on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. CT.

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