Ragin’ Cajuns hold off Cowboys for 85-80 win

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LAFAYETTE – Louisiana-Lafayette used a 20-2 run in the final 4-and-a-half minutes of the first half and the first three and a half minutes of the second half to overcome a 13-point McNeese first half lead, then held off a fierce late Cowboy rally to beat McNeese 85-80 at the Cajundome on Saturday night.

ULL improved to 2-0 on the season while McNeese fell to 0-2, both games on the road. The Cowboys will open their home season on Monday night when they host Southern-New Orleans at 6:30 at the H&HP Arena.

McNeese trailed 77-67 with 1:29 to play but was able to pull to within 80-79 with 30.2 seconds to play after a Leondre Washington basket, back-to-back Jalen Poyser buckets, and a couple other Washington scores with one being a three-pointer.

Poyser had an open look for a 3 to tie the game with 1.2 seconds to play but the shot was off the mark and ULL corralled the rebound then hit two free throws to seal the win.

“I thought it was a great college basketball game,” said head coach Heath Schroyer. “That’s obviously a good team and a hard place to play. We had our chances. We had shots to win it. We just came up short. I give them (ULL) a lot of credit. They turned us over several times but I’m proud of our guys. I think we showed a lot of resolve.”

The Cowboys turned the ball over 22 times while ULL scored 21 points off those errors.

“We have a good team,” said Schroyer. “We’re going to be good. We just have to figure out how to close out games and win games like that.”

Dru Kuxhausen led McNeese with 18 points with three 3-point baskets. Roydell Brown recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. A.J. Lawson and Washington added 11 points and Sha’Markus Kennedy scored 10 with nine rebounds before fouling out.

Cedric Russell had the hot hand for ULL, scoring 22 points including knocking down five 3s, three of those on consecutive possessions that helped increase a 47-42 second half ULL lead to 56-42 with 11:38 to play in the game.

Jalen Johnson added 21 points for the Cajuns while Julien Kobe scored 15 and Dou Gueye had 11.

The Cowboys put together a 7-0 run behind a Trey Johnson 3 and to play. baskets from Truman Moore and Brown to pull to within 56-49 with 9:17

McNeese scored the first five points of the game and did a nice job defensively for the first 16 minutes by forcing the Cajuns into turnovers and poor shot selections.

The Cowboys took their first double-digit lead at 17-7 after a couple of free throws by Kuxhausen with 11:01 to play in the half.

ULL managed pull to within three points with a 7-0 run but McNeese built the lead back up following back-to-back threes by Kuxhausen then a couple of Lawson free throws to go up 29-16 with 4:35 to play.

The Cajuns found their shot late and sack their final four shots of the half, all threes, to make it a one-point game at the break.

McNeese hit 46 percent from the field (27 of 59) and was 6 of 16 from long range. The Cowboys connected on 20 of 29 from the free throw line and pulled down 38 rebounds.

The Cowboys shot 53 percent in the second half (18 of 34).

ULL shot 30 of 70 for 43 percent and 10 of 26 from behind the arc along with 15 of 20 from the free throw line. ULL also pulled down 38 rebounds, 16 on the offensive end for 21 second chance points. ULL hit 18 of 36 for 50 percent in the second half.

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