Gant’s dunk in final seconds lifts Ragin’ Cajuns past in-state Lions, 73-72

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HAMMOND – JaKeenan Gant go-ahead dunk with 3.0 seconds remaining capped a furious 10-3 run over the final 1:35 and helped the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to a 73-72 win against Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday at the University Center.

Malik Marquetti scored 19 points to lead Louisiana (9-4) while JaKeenan Gant scored nine points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked six shots. Trajan Wesley, making his first career start, scored 10 points and had four steals for the Ragin’ Cajuns while Justin Miller overcame a 2-for-11 performance from the floor to grab a game-high 13 rebounds.

“It was a difficult game. A tough game to play. I thought Southeastern did a good job,” head coach Bob Marlin said. “They played well and we finally made a couple of plays late in the game when we had to have them.”

SLU (4-9), which dropped its fifth straight game and third on the final possession, scored six straight points to break a 63-all deadlock beginning with Von Julien’s 3-pointer 3:04 remaining. Moses Greenwood added a pair of free throws for the Lions before Julien hit the first o0-f two free throws for a 69-63 lead with 1:35 left.

Marcus Stroman cut into the SLU lead with a three-point play with 1:20 left before Wesley drained a pair of free throws that closed the game to 69-68 with 1:02 left.

After Julien hit the second of two free throws that gave SLU a 70-68 lead, the Ragin’ Cajuns answered as P.J. Hardy drained a 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds left – the only one of the second half – giving Louisiana the lead.

Julien put the Lions back ahead, 72-71, on a bucket with 10.5 seconds remaining before Stroman drove the lane and found Gant for the easy bucket to put Louisiana up for good.

“We hit the one we had to have (and) the guys closed out well,” Marlin said. “They did a good job of executing. P.J. (Hardy) and Jeremy (Hayes) go 4-for-4 from behind the 3-point line, respectively. P.J. hit two big ones for us in the first half to bump us up with a lead. He’s been working hard and getting his confidence back. We’re certainly going to need that as we get into (Sun Belt) conference play.”

Hardy scored nine points for Louisiana, going 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point line with Jerekius Davis added nine points. Stroman scored seven of his eight points in the second half for Louisiana, which won for the 14th time in the last 15 meetings dating back to Feb. 20, 1965.

Marlain Veal scored 19 points to lead SLU with Greenwood posting a double-double with 18 points and 11 boards.

Louisiana will return to action on Thursday (Jan. 3) when it opens Sun Belt Conference play against Arkansas State at the Cajundome. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and will be streamed live on ESPN+.

• Season tickets, beginning at $100, are available online at using Account Manager, or by calling the Louisiana Athletics Ticket Office at (337) 265-2357.
• All current UL faculty and staff, along with recent graduates (within the last five years), can purchase season tickets at a 50-percent discount to cheer on the Ragin’ Cajuns during the 2018-19 season at the Cajundome.
• The special package will allow recent graduates of Louisiana to purchase tickets in sections 101-103. Discounts will be applied upon confirmation of graduate status by the Louisiana Athletics Ticket Office.

Follow the Ragin’ Cajuns on Twitter (@RaginCajunsMBB), Facebook (RaginCajunsMBB) or Instagram (@RaginCajunsMBB) to stay up-to-date on all that is happening with Louisiana Men’s Basketball.

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