Ragin' Cajuns force overtime before losing to Wyoming
LARAMIE, Wyoming – Hunter Maldonado scored all 11 of his points after intermission, including six points from the free throw line in overtime while Hunter Thompson’s critical 3-pointer helped lead Wyoming to a 69-61 victory over UL in the MGM Resorts Main Event on Thursday night at Arena-Auditorium.
Thompson scored seven of his season-high 22 points in the extra stanza as Wyoming (3-3) won its second straight game and capitalized on the poorest combined shooting night for the Ragin’ Cajuns (3-2) in the Bob Marlin era.
The Cajuns shot under 50 percent from all three categories for the first time in a game under Marlin, finishing 22-for-57 (38.6 percent) from the floor, 4-for-23 (17.4 percent) from behind the 3-point line and 13-for-28 (46.4 percent) from the charity stripe.
Both teams were deadlocked at 33-all at halftime and Wyoming took a 54-52 lead on a Thompson free throw with 39.9 seconds remaining.
UL’s Cedric Russell tied the game at 54-all on a driving layup with 22.7 seconds left and the Cajuns forced a loose ball in the final seconds to send the game to overtime.
UL opened the extra stanza with a bucket by Kobe Julien before Tirus Smith added a free throw for a 57-54 lead with 4:31 remaining.
Smith was playing his first game of the season after missing the first four for medical reasons. Senior guard P.J. Hardy also played his first game of the season for UL following a four-game suspension for violation of undisclosed team rules.
Maldonado, the leading scorer for the Cowboys (18.0) entering the game, added a pair of free throws to cut the Cajuns’ lead to 57-56 before Thompson sank a pair from the stripe to put Wyoming ahead for good, 58-57, at the 4:04 mark.
After Thompson and Russell traded buckets on each side, Wyoming scored the next five points as Maldonado hit a pair of free throws and Thompson drained a 3-pointer for the right corner – the first by the Cowboys since Thompson recorded his third of the night at the 6:21 mark of the first half and snapping a string of 14 straight misses for outside.
Wyoming opened the game scoring the first five points before UL went on a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game. A bucket by Russell, who finished with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, and a four-point play by Dou Gueye gave the Ragin’ Cajuns their first lead of the game.
Julien, who led Louisiana with 15 points, added a bucket before Gueye added a jumper with 16:43 remaining in the first half to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 10-5 lead.
A bucket by Trajan Wesley with 10:36 remaining in the first half gave Louisiana its largest lead of the night, 18-11, before the Cowboys battled back with an 8-1 run that was capped by Thompson’s bucket at the 7:46 mark.
Wyoming built a 46-39 lead in the second half after a basket by T.J. Taylor, but the Ragin’ Cajuns would come back with seven straight points as two free throws by Gueye knotted the contest at 46-all with 4:59 left.
Gueye scored 11 points for Louisiana while freshman Mylik Wilson grabbed a season-high nine rebounds for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Smith scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in 18 minutes while Jalen Johnson added eight points with four boards.
Taylor and AJ Banks scored 12 points each for the Cowboys with Jake Hendricks grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Cowboys finished 24-for-53 (45.3 percent) from the floor, 7-for-28 (25 percent) from the 3-point line and 14-for-22 (63.6 percent) from the charity stripe, highlighted by an 8-for-10 performance in overtime.
UL will return to action on Monday when it faces Detroit Mercy (0-3) in the MGM Resorts Main Event in Las Vegas. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. (central). The Cajuns will wrap up the tournament on Tuesday against UC Irvine in a 3 p.m. (central) contest.