Ragin’ Cajuns rally to edge Privateers in OT, 77-73

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Cajuns conclude roadtrip with 3-3 record, host Southern University on Saturday

NEW ORLEANS – Justin Miller and Cedric Russell each scored five points in overtime and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball team rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first half to defeat in-state rival New Orleans, 77-73, on Wednesday at Lakefront Arena.

JaKeenan Gant, Malik Marquetti and P.J. Hardy all scored a team-high 12 points as Louisiana (4-3) wrapped up a six-game roadtrip after opening the season at home with a 121-80 win over the University of the Virgin Islands on Nov. 6. Miller and Jerekius Davis scored 10 points each as the Ragin’ Cajuns defeated New Orleans (3-2) for the sixth consecutive time and 19th time in the last 23 meetings.

The Privateers, who were undefeated in three games at home, scored the first six points of the game and built a 29-15 lead on Damion Rosser’s alley-oop with 4:12 remaining in the first half. After that, Louisiana buckled down defensively, keeping New Orleans off the scoreboard the rest of the half and closing to 29-26 at intermission.

A bucket by UNO’s Lamont Berzet with 13:54 remaining gave the Privateers a 42-34 lead before Louisiana used an 11-2 run to take its first lead of the night.

Marcus Stroman, who scored six rebounds with seven rebounds and seven assists, converted a three-point play before a dunk by Gant cut the lead to 42-39 at the 13:06 mark. Following a bucket by UNO’s Scott Plaisance, the Ragin’ Cajuns added buckets by Marquetti and Davis before Hardy went coast-to-coast off a rebound and gave Louisiana a 45-44 lead with 9:11 left.

Louisiana led 59-57 on a bucket by Miller with 31.1 seconds remaining before UNO’s Gerrale Gates sent the game to overtime with a bucket with 13 seconds remaining.

Both sides traded points during the first two minutes of overtime before a pair of free throws by Miller with 2:55 left gave Louisiana the lead for good, 65-63. Davis followed with a clutch 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:05 remaining, and after Gates converted a three-point play that cut the lead to 68-66, Russell drained a 3-pointer from the left corner for a 71-66 lead with 1:22 remaining.

New Orleans battled back after Miller’s basket with 36 seconds remaining in the extra stanza gave Louisiana its biggest lead of the night, 73-66. Two free throws by Rosser, a bucket by Gates and a 3-pointer by Jorge Rosa would cut the deficit to 75-73, but Hardy iced the game with a pair of free throws to close it out.

Russell added eight points, including 5 of 6 free throws, as Louisiana finished 24-for-56 (42.9 percent from the floor and 22-for-29 (75.9 percent) from the charity stripe. The Ragin’ Cajuns held UNO to 26-for-75 (34.7 percent) from the floor, including a 10-for-35 (28.6 percent) performance in the second half.

Gates scored 17 points to lead the Privateers with Rosser recording a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Bryson Robinson came off the bench to score 11 points for New Orleans.

Louisiana will return to action on Saturday (Dec. 1) when it plays host to in-state opponent Southern University at the Cajundome. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN+.

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