Finals week is over
- 18 Dec, 2017
Finals week is over, and the Cajuns are riding a 5-game win streak heading into the break.
Let’s look back at the first 10 games of the season. We started the season off on the road against Ole Miss, and lost a hard fought game 94-76 in front of a huge crowd of 8,302. Our guys played well in the first half grabbing a 10-point lead with about five minutes left in the half. But a late end-of-half run by Ole Miss cut our lead to two points at the break. Ole Miss rallied in the second half using a 14-2 run to pull away. Johnathan Stove led the team in scoring with 16. Cedric Russell hit five threes in his first collegiate game.
The Cajuns quickly turned it around with two home games against Louisiana College and Savannah State, scoring over 110 points in each game. Against Louisiana College PJ Hardy lead all scorers with a career-high 19 points in the 113-58 win which saw six Cajuns get into double figures. Savannah State came into the game leading the nation in three points attempted but with a 115-82 victory the Cajuns out shot Savannah State 16 to six in threes made. Leading the way was Cedric Russell with six makes finishing the game with 20 points. Right after the game the team got on a charter bus and started the first leg of our trip to the Cayman Islands.
We got to the Caymans on Saturday and had one day to prepare for Iowa in the opening round game set for 11:00 AM that Monday. We played our best 20 minutes of the season in the first half with a 27-7 run in the last 10:59 of the half to take a 37-17 lead. Frank Bartley led the team in scoring with 17 points and Bryce Washington posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to seal an 80-71 victory over Iowa. This victory was our first win over a power five conference team in 15 years! The next day was a semi-final matchup against Wyoming where we struggled offensively shooting 33% from the field. The guys fought back at the end to get the game within five - 66-61 with 35 seconds left but fell short 61-70. This put us in the 3rd place game on Wednesday against Richmond. Richmond jumped out to an early 34-30 lead going into the half. Frank Bartley led the second half with 23 points and a career high of six steals, and the Cajuns were able to take control to win 82-76. Frank was named to All-Tournament team and we headed home on Thanksgiving Day feeling good about our 2-1 showing in the Caymans, against a strong RPI field.
After a couple days off we were back in the gym preparing for a big week against in-state rivals McNeese State and Nicholls. We beat McNeese 89-78 and got a career night from Malik Marquetti hitting five out of six threes and finishing with 17 points. The win brought us to 3-0 home record and was our 26th consecutive regular-season, non-conference game at home. After the game, I challenged our guys moving forward to play the Cajuns way for a whole 40 minutes. Later that week on Friday we headed down the bayou to Thibodeaux for the first time in over 40 years to face Nicholls State. Down 10 points early in the second half we went on a 21-0 to take control off the game and never looked back. We changed defenses and held the Colonels scoreless for six and a half minutes while scoring on 14 consecutive possessions. This run helped us win the second half by a score of 61-32. Johnathan Stove led the way with 23 points.
Next up we played Loyola New Orleans beating them by a score of 98-56 during the reading day of exam week. JaKeenan Gant scored a career-high 23 points posting his second consecutive 20-point game. All 13 players dressed scored with the exception of starting point guard Marcus Stroman. After the game we gave the players the next two days off to focus on Finals.
Heading into the winter break the following week we faced tough in-state rival La Tech. Facing La Tech in Ruston would be no easy task. Since 2008-09, La Tech is 62-3 in non-conference games at home. One of those losses was a wire-to-wire contest to UL (89-80) in 2013-14. Similar to last year we jumped out to a 35-17 lead to open the game. At half we lead 38-25. We struggled defensively down the stretch, but the play of the game was a jump ball when three Cajuns dove on the court for the ball. It helped us preserve a good win on the road, giving tech 2 out its only 4 non-conference home lose in nine years. The win also marked the fourth win in five games versus the Bulldogs.
Heading into the Christmas break the Cajuns equaled last years best start in 23 years with a record of 8-2. We have 3 more non-conference games before tipping off conference play on December 29th at Little Rock. The Cajuns are currently ranked 10th overall in the College Insider Mid-Major top 25 poll. I hope everybody has a great Christmas. Geaux Cajuns!.