Cold Spell Dooms Cajuns in Second Half, 72-58
Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns were a decided underdog in their conference opener in the Cajundome Thursday night against the league's pre-season favorites.
The Cajuns and MIddle Tennessee played toe to toe for a good while in the second half before a cold spell enabled the Blue Raiders to pull away 72-58.
The Cajuns (2-5, 0-1 Sun Belt) trailed by as many as eleven points in the first half, but a Matt Moss three pointer at the buzzer cut the MTSU lead to six points at the break.
The Cajuns came out strong in the second half and tied the game at 42 and actually took their only lead of the second half at 46-45. Then the cold spell started and the Cajuns got only one field goal in the next seven minutes, allowing the Blue Raiders (5-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) the opportunity to pad their lead and pull away down the stretch.
Each team had four in double figures. Freshman Shawn Long had a double double for the Cajuns with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Another freshman, Steven Wronkoski, scored 13 points, all in the second half, while Bryant Mbamalu and Elfrid Payton each scored eleven.
James Gallman led a balanced attack for Middle Tennessee with fourteen points. Marcos Knight added 12, Jason Jones 11 and Tweety Knight chipped in with ten.
Middle Tennessee got the double digit win, despite having their leading scorer, Shawn Jones, go without a field goal in the contest. All eleven of the Blue Raiders who played scored at least two points.
Middle Tennessee's bench outscored the Cajuns 36-3, with Moss' triple at the end of the first half the only points the Cajuns got from their bench players.
Middle Tennessee, who leads the league in shooting percentage and rebounding, outboarded the Cajuns 40-31. The Blue Raiders are coming off a 27-7 season a year ago and were an NIT quarterfinalist.
Louisiana hits the road now for a Saturday contest against pre-season Western Divison favorite North Texas. Gametime is scheduled for 7pm Saturday night at the SuperPit in Denton, Texas.