Wright On!! Cajuns’ Senior Leads Comeback Over Texas State
In the locker room following Louisiana's improbable 94-84 overtime win over Texas State, head coach Bob Marlin asked if anyone had anything to say.
His senior leader looked up and said, "It's March."
Jay Wright scored Louisiana's final twelve points in the final 2:15 of regulation, then added five more in the overtime period as the Cajuns came back from a eight point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation to tie the game at 74 all.
The win was the fifth straight for Louisiana (19-11, 9-8 Sun Belt).
Trailing 66-58 after a Bobby Conley three pointer at the 3:59 mark, the Cajuns got four straight points from freshman Justin Miller to bring the Cajuns within four points with 2:54 left. Nijal Pearson hit a jumper to make the score 68-62 with two and a half minutes to play.
Then Wright took over the game.
The senior, who did not score in the first half, hit a 15 footer to cut the lead to four, but Kavin Gilder-Tilbury, who scored 19 second half points for the Bobcats (17-12, 10-7 Sun Belt) answered with a jumper of his own with 1:52 left. Wright scored eleven seconds later and after Nigal Pearson missed a three pointer, Wright buried one from 20 feet out to cut the lead to one point with 49 seconds left. Gilder-Tilbury nailed a 24 footer with time running out on the shot clock to make it a two possession game with :22 remaining, but Wright answered with one from 22 feet out seven seconds later. Bobby Conley made one of two free throws to make it 74-72, and Wright drove in for a layup to tie it with six seconds to go. Nedeljko Prijovic missed a trey at the end of regulation.
Wright wasn't finished.
After Gilder-Tilbury made one of two free throws, the senior, who was honored before the game as the 44th member of the 1,000 point club, hit a layup to give the Cajuns the lead and, in the process, fouled Gilder-Tilbury out of the game. Wright missed the free throw, but Jerekius Davis snagged the offensive rebound and Miller scored inside to give the Cajuns a three point lead. Immanuel King's had an old fashioned three point play to tie it, but two Frank Bartley free throws got the lead right back, and, after Pearson missed a three pointer, Wright supplied the dagger with his third triple to make it 83-78 with 2:54 left in overtime. Davis followed with a steal and basket to increase the lead to seven. Pearson made a free throw but Miller swished a three pointer to make it a nine point game and it was over.
Wright finished with 21 points, 17 of them in a span of less than five minutes, on 8-12 shooting, including 3-5 from three point range. Miller, whose mother drove in from Kentucky to see the game (and will drive right back in the morning), had a double double with 20 points and ten rebounds. Johnathan Stove scored 15 before fouling out with just under five minutes left in regulation. Bryce Washington tallied his 21st double double of the season with 13 points and 14 boards and Bartley finished with 12.
"They (Texas State) played really well. But we finally got a couple of stops down the stretch and I thought when we tied it up we had a good chance to win," Marlin said. Then when Gilder-Tilbury fouled out, I felt it was over." And it was.
Gilder-Tilbury scored 21 points for Texas State on 8-13 shooting, including 3-6 from three point range. Freshman Pearson added 20 and guard Ojai Black finished with 16 points and six assists.
Texas State shot 57.1 percent (15-26) in each half, but made just 2-5 field goals and 5-9 from the free throw line in the overtime period. The Cajuns, meanwhile, shot 53.6% in the second half, then hit 6-7 from the field, including 2-3 from three point range in the overtime. Louisiana also hit 6-7 free throws during the extra period, finishing 21-27 for the night.
Louisiana owned the boards, outrebounding the visitors 40-21, with 16 offensive boards to just five for the Bobcats. The Cajuns had a 48-28 advantage in points in the paint.
The Cajuns will close the regular season against Sun Belt regular season champion UTA Saturday night at the Cajundome.
And, Jay Wright, the Cajuns' only senior, will be honored before the game.