Cajuns Fall to Georgia State, 72-69
The Georgia State Panthers got a measure of revenge over the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Thursday night, defeating the Cajuns 72-69 before 3,743 at the Cajundome.
The win was payback for the 87-54 thumping the Panthers took at the hands of the Cajuns back in January.
The Panthers (16-12, 9-10 Sun Belt) were paced by Kevin Ware, who scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half. Markus Crider added 14, while Isaiah WIlliams and Austin Donaldson scored 13 points each. Jeremy Hollowell, the Panthers' leading scorer, chipped in ten.
Bryce Washington scored a season-high 21 points for the Cajuns (15-13, 11-8), while Jay Wright, sidelined Saturday with a finger injury, scored 16, all in the second half. Shawn Long was held to eleven points while Steven Wronkoski had ten points.
"We weren't very good in the first half," head coach Bob Marlin said. "But we fought back and were in good shape for awhile. But we didn't get any stops down the stretch, and it cost us."
The Cajuns suffered eleven turnovers in the first half and trailed 31-23 at halftime, as only three players hit field goals before halftime.
But Louisiana came out and outscored Georgia State 14-5 in the first three and a half minutes of the second half, capped by Wright's three point play that gave the Cajuns their first lead, 37-36. Wright's layup with 12:23 to play increased the lead to five points, 43-38. The Cajuns lost the lead briefly, but Long scored on a layup and the converted an alley-oop dunk after a steal by Kasey Shepherd, and the Cajuns maintained the lead, stretching it to six points, 58-52 after two Washington free throws with 5:26 to play.
Georgia State, however, then went on a 10-0 run as the Cajuns missed a pair of shots and suffered two critical turnovers. Donaldson scored on a layup, Crider hit a dunk and a pair of free throws, Donaldson scored again inside and Williams capped the run with a layup to give Georgia State the lead for good, 62-58 with 2.22 left.
The Panthers increased the lead to six after two Ware free throws with :34 to go. Shepherd hit his only shot of the night to cut the lead to three, and after the Panthers got the lead back to five, Wronkoski hit a triple with 6.5 to go. Williams made a free throw but missed the second, giving the Cajuns one last chance, but Hayward Register's contested 30 footer was well off the mark as time expired.
Long had eight rebounds in the contest, pushing him over the 1,400 rebound mark in his career
Georgia State shot 57% in the second half and made their last five field goal attempts and finished 28-56 for 50%. They made 4-10 from three point range and hit 12-16 free throws.
The Cajuns were 23-51 (45.1%) and hit 6-18 from beyond the arc after missing all seven attempts in the first half. Louisiana was 17-23 from the free throw line (73.9%) after starting 1-5.
With the loss, the Cajuns dropped to fourth place in the league, one game behind UT Arlington and one game in front of Georgia Southern. The Cajuns can clinch a bye in the first round with a win Saturday night against Georgia Southern. A Georgia Southern win would tie the Cajuns for fourth place, but the Cajuns could still win what could be a complicated tie-breaker.
The top four teams in the league earn a bye, with Little Rock and UL Monroe already assured of a double bye to the semifinals.
The six Cajuns' seniors, Long, Wronkoski, Tiremone Williams, Devonte Walker, Shepherd and Matt Marlin will be honored before Saturday night's game.