Big First Half Leads Louisiana Past Lamar, 77-60

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LAFAYETTE – Four different Cajuns scored in double figures and Shawn Long and Elfrid Payton each posted double doubles as Louisiana improved to 4-6 with a 77-60 victory over Lamar at the Cajundome Tuesday evening.

The win broke a 41-all series tie with Lamar (1-8) and was Louisiana's 14th win over the Cardinals in the last 18 meetings in the Cajundome.

The Ragin' Cajuns scored the game's first 11 points and never trailed.

“It was important for us to get off to a good start and our team did just that,” said head coach Bob Marlin. “We pressed them a little bit and we were able to get our hands on a lot of passes. Those forced turnovers are what gave us the lead.

“Alan-Michael Thompson gave us a big boost off the bench and took a lot of good shots,” Marlin added. “We tried to give the younger guys more minutes tonight and got a lot of contributions for a great team win.”

Alan-Michael Thompson led the Cajuns with a career-high18 points. Payton scored 17 points to go along with 11 rebounds and Long contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds – as the two Cajuns standouts notched double-doubles for the second straight outing. Bryant Mbamalu (also scored in double figures for the Cajuns.

The Cajuns defense set the tone in the opening stanza, holding LU to 25 percent shooting (6-of-24) and forcing 17 turnovers.

UL got off to a hot start as Long scored eight of his 10 first half points in the first five minutes as the Cajuns went on an 11-0 run to begin the game. The guests eventually picked things up, going on a 7-2 run of their own at the 6:23 mark, getting to within eight points, 25-17.

Thompson, who led all scorers with 13 points in the first half, got hot in the final minutes, knocking down back-to-back triples after Josh Soto had hit one of his own from the top of the key to ignite a 12-2 surge that stretched the Cajuns lead to 37-19 at halftime.

The advantage quickly grew to 20 just under three minutes into the second half as Payton knocked down a triple and the Cajuns took a commanding 42-21 lead. Louisiana led by as many as 24 points following a Payton three-point play with 7:50 remaining.

Lamar went on a 7-0 run to trim their deficit to 17 points with 5:30 left to play. However, the Cajuns answered as Aaron LeBlanc, Payton, and Kasey Shepherd knocked down shots over a minute and a half span to put the game away.

Despite the strong offensive effort by the Cajuns, Lamar held a 39-36 rebounding advantage. The Ragin' Cajuns generated 24 points off 25 Lamar turnovers.

Louisiana shot 39.7 percent from the field (27-68) compared to 43.9 percent (25-57) for Lamar.

Louisiana returns to action on Saturday as it visits Houston at 7:00 p.m. inside Hofheinz Pavilion on the UH campus. The game serves as the final road non-conference game of the 2012-13 season.

BANK SHOTS: Shawn Long recorded his Sun Belt Conference-best fifth double-double of the season (16 points, 11 rebounds)…Long scored nine of the Cajuns 11 points on the game-opening scoring spree…Elfrid Payton recorded his second career double-double (and second in a row), scoring 17 points with a career-high 11 rebounds…Alan-Michael Thompson made a career-high four three-pointers in seven attempts…Bryant Mbamalu reached double figures for the fourth straight game (sixth of the year), finishing with 10 points…The Cajuns forced a season-high matching 25 turnovers, their fifth game forcing 20 or more turnovers this season…The Louisiana bench had a productive night, totalling 30 points with 21 coming in the first half…The Cajuns had another strong night from the foul line, going 17-for-23 (.739)…The 14 steals by Louisiana was a season high (old high 12 vs. Oakland & Michigan State)… Louisiana fans who honored the tradition of standing until the opponent scored their first basket had quite a wait as Louisiana ran off 11 points to open the game and Lamar didn't get on the board until 14:55 remained…The Cardinals missed their first five shots and turned the ball over five times…The Ragin' Cajuns never led by less than six after the hot start with the 37-19 halftime lead being the largest of the first stanza…Tuesday's game marked the 83rd meeting all-time between the former Southland, American South and Sun Belt Conference rivals and the 18th at the Cajundome…The Cajuns win returned the series lead to them, now a 42-41 edge…The game was the second of three straight games with teams situated on Interstate 10 which began last Saturday at McNeese State (stretch concludes Saturday at Houston)…Bob Marlin improved to 23-10 at home as Louisiana's head coach and 158-37 all-time as a Division I head coach…The home team was victorious for the second straight season in the Cajuns-Cardinals series and 61st time overall.

– Ragin' Cajuns –
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