Evansville Ends Cajuns’ Season, 89-82
D. J. Balentine tied a season high with 35 points as Evansville defeated Louisiana in the quarterfinals of the College Insider Tournament, 89-82 before 3541 fans at Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette Thursday night.
Balentine, the second leading scorer in the nation among juniors behind Georgia State's R. J. Hunter, hit 11-18 from the field including 4-7 from three point range and made 9-10 free throws to lead the Purple Aces (22-12) to the win.
The Aces used an 8-0 run over a span of 1:39 late in the first half to take a seven point lead, 39-32 at the 3:23 mark and never relinquished the lead.
Louisiana (22-14) got within one point, 51-50 after a pair of Devonta Walker free throws, but Balentine hit a three pointer 14 seconds later to put the Aces up by four. The Cajuns closed to within two points on two separate occasions, the last after a pair of Shawn Long free throws with 9:30 left. Louisiana had a chance to take the lead on the ensuing possession but Jay Wright missed a three point attempt and Balentine's two free throws extended the lead back to four points.
The Cajuns kept fighting, however and got to within three, 74-71 with 4:11 to go on a pair of free throws by Shawn Long. But Adam Wings inside bucket just five seconds later started an 8-1 run to put the game away.
Balentine was joined in double figures by Jaylon Moore with twelve points, Wing had eleven, with nine of those in the second half and Mislav Brzoja chipped in with ten.
:Long led the Cajuns with 24 points on 7-11 shooting and 10-11 from the free throw line. He also had eleven rebounds for his 52nd career double double, tops in the nation among active players. Kasey Shepherd scored 15 points and Walker had 13 to round out the Cajuns' double figure scorers.
Evansville shot a blistering 56.6% from the field (30-53) and hit 6-13 from three point range and 23-29 free throws. Louisiana hit just 38.7 percent after intermission and finished at 41.4% (24-58). They were just 6-19 from beyond the arc and hit 28-34 free throws.
The Cajuns won the rebounding battle 34-31 but had 16 turnovers to 14 for the Aces.
It was the second consecutive 20-win season for the Cajuns who have won 45 games in the past two seasons under head coach Bob Marlin.
The win spoiled the return to the venerable arena which was the home to the Cajuns from 1960-85. The arena also hosted a handful of games during the early part of the 2005-06 season while the Cajundome was unavailable after being used as a shelter in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina. Former head coaches Jim Hatfield and Bobby Paschal were in attendance as well as the family of the late head coach Beryl Shipley. Shipley's widow, Delores, delivered the game ball to the officials before the game.