Malik Marquetti’s career night powers Cajuns past in-state Cowboys

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LAFAYETTE – Malik Marquetti scored 12 of his career-high 17 points in the second half, including a career-best 5-for-6 from behind the 3-point line, and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns opened the game on a 29-8 run in claiming an 89-78 win over in-state rival McNeese on Tuesday at the Cajundome.

JaKeenan Gant scored 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting for Louisiana (5-2), which improved to 3-0 on its home floor this season and won its 26th consecutive regular-season, non-conference game at home. McNeese, which was led by Stephen Ugochukwu’s 20 points and 12 rebounds, dropped to 2-3 overall.

The Cowboys scored the game’s first four points and led 6-4 on a bucket by Kalob Ledoux with 16:15 remaining in the first half before Louisiana went on a decisive run.

Marcus Stroman and Marquetti hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open a 16-0 run for the Ragin’ Cajuns before Gant scored on three straight possessions, Stroman added a second 3-pointer and Bryce Washington converted on a pair of layups for a 23-6 lead at the 11:50 mark.

Justin Miller scored a pair of buckets for Louisiana before Frank Bartley sank a pair of free throws that pushed the Ragin’ Cajuns lead to 29-8 with 10:05 remaining in the first half.

Louisiana lead 31-12 after a Miller bucket with 8:39 remaining in the first half before McNeese began to chip away at the lead, closing out the half on a 16-5 run to cut the lead to 36-28 at halftime.

Marquetti, a USC transfer whose previous career-high (16 points) came in 2015 against Washington State, opened the second half with three straight 3-pointers that gave Louisiana a 45-28 lead before the Ragin’ Cajuns pushed their lead to 66-46 on a 3-pointer by freshman Cedric Russell with 10:51 left.

Johnathan Stove, who returned to the lineup after missing five games with an ankle injury, scored on a layup with 3:56 remaining to give Louisiana an 81-59 lead before the Cowboys ended the game on a 19-8 run.

Bartley and Stove each scored 11 points for Louisiana, which finished 33-for-68 (48.5 percent) from the floor and scored 28 points off 16 Cowboy turnovers. Washington pulled down 12 rebounds for the Ragin’ Cajuns with Bartley dishing out a game-high four assists.

Kalob Ledoux scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds for McNeese with Jarren Greenwood adding 15 points and Jacob Ledoux 14. The Cowboys went 8-for-25 (32.0 percent) from the floor in the first half before going 22-for-40 (55 percent) to finish 30-for-65 (46.2 percent) for the game.

Louisiana will return to action on Friday when it travels to face Nicholls in a 7 p.m. contest at Stopher Gym.

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