WATCH: Marlin Breaks Down Buzzer Beater, Trip To Carolinas
The Ragin' Cajuns are focused on getting hot before the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, and they're riding a huge wave of momentum after the game in Monroe.
Louisiana staged a miraculous comeback against the Warhawks, and it was capped off with Johnathan Stove's incredible buzzer-beater from half court to win the game. Head Coach Bob Marlin was proud of his team for never quitting, even when things looked bleak.
"We were down five with five seconds to go, and we ended up winning in regulation. It says a lot about the character of our guys," Marlin said. He added, "It got down late, it got down to the last couple seconds, but if you still have a chance, anything is possible."
Even though the Warhawks made seven of their last eight shots and never turned the ball over, the Cajuns chipped away at the lead every possession. Louisiana started raining three's at the end, and it put them in position for Stove to steal the show in Monroe.
Everything had to work perfectly for the Ragin' Cajuns to steal the win, and the team followed Marlin's plan to a tee.
"That was the whole strategy the last minute, trade threes for twos," Marlin explained. Before the final play, Marlin laid out the strategy, "We told them in the timeout, you have time for three dribbles...and that's exactly what Johnathan did."
Marlin said he hopes the buzzer beater gives Stove the confidence to break out on offense when the team needs him in the tournament.
Stove wouldn't have had a chance to win the game if Kadavion Evans didn't get the putback on the previous possession though. After sitting out two months with an injury, Evans is providing a solid spark off the bench.
Evans and fellow freshman PJ Hardy are two major pieces of the puzzle for Marlin. When they hit shots off the bench, it adds a dangerous dimension to the offense.
"We need both of those guys to come off the bench and make baskets for us the rest of the way," Marlin said.
Louisiana will need their three point shooting in the final few games of the regular season, especially during this upcoming trip to the Carolinas.
The road trip starts with Coastal Carolina. It's the only time the Ragin' Cajuns will play them in the regular season, and it's the first time Louisiana will face them in Sun Belt play.
As newcomers to the conference, Marlin and his staff don't have as much familiarity with Coastal Carolina. That being said, his coaches are still helping the team prepare by doing their due diligence to learn their style of play.
"I've only watched them play a couple times, but the assistants have watched them and App [State] quite a lot. I've only seen them in a TV game or when they went against an opponent that we already played," Marlin said. "It is unusual to play a team just once in the second to last week in the season."
Based on the homework they've done, Marlin thinks it might be a high-scoring game against Coastal Carolina.
"They're a group that really shoots the three point shot, they average about 35 threes a game, and they shoot an effective percentage. They're one of the best rebounding teams in the league, right behind us, and they're also one of the best defensive teams," Marlin explained.
The Chanticleers boast a 9-6 record in Sun Belt play, so Louisiana will have their hands full with a team that is solidly in the mix come tournament time.
App State is near the bottom of the conference standings with only three wins in Sun Belt play, but Marlin isn't taking any games for granted at this point in the season.
Two wins would bring Louisiana's conference record back even at 8-8, and it would add onto the momentum they built in Monroe.
The trip to Boone is a logistical headache, and then they have to beat a team in their own house. Marlin's scouting report isn't as detailed as some of the more familiar teams in the conference, but he expects them to fight to protect their court.
"They're well coached offensively, they're efficient defensively, but like us they've had some issues this year, but they're better than their record indicates," Marlin said.
After taking the trip to play Coastal Carolina and App State, the Ragin' Cajuns will fly back to Lafayette in the middle of Mardi Gras, then they will have one day of rest before taking on Texas State.
The grind of the basketball season is reaching a brutal stretch for Louisiana, but their only option is to push through it and hopefully come out the other side with a few wins.