Shorthanded Cajuns can't answer UTA's second-half run
Even on another rough night for the UL basketball team, the Ragin’ Cajuns still were within five points with just more than 14 minutes to go.
But it was all downhill from there as the Cajuns dropped their third in a row, falling 81-65 to Texas-Arlington on Thursday night the Cajundome.
A 3-pointer by Jalen Johnson — who finished with a game-high 23 points — fell with 15 minutes to go, giving UL its glimmer of hope.
But it was not to be for the Cajuns, who had been down by as many as 13 points in the opening half, in their first outing of a three-game homestand.
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“Disappointing second half for our guys tonight,” UL coach Bob Marlin said. “We fought back, and got in the game.
“We were down 57-52, and I think we had six possessions in a row we couldn’t score.
“Got the ball on the rim two or three times, had really good shots inside. Had a 3 that went in and out,” Marlin added. “And it didn’t happen, and then we let them go on an 11-0 run on the other end. That was your game.”
Sam Griffin’s fastbreak bucket with 10:01 left put the Mavericks up 68-52, and UTA never trailed by fewer than 14 after that.
“We just didn’t finish,” Marlin said. “Guys weren’t strong enough to get it in tonight.”
More:UL goes cold in second half of loss at Georgia Southern
UL guards Cedric Russell (1-for-6), P.J. Hardy (4-for-14) and Calvin Temple (2-for-9) shot a combined 7-for-29 (24.1%) as UTA hit 47% from the field.
“Ball didn’t go on our end; it went in on their end,” Marlin, his club shorthanded due to injuries and illness, said of UTA’s pull-away run. “I mean, it’s pretty simple.
“Just didn’t have enough in the tank tonight. You know, it’s hard having seven guys.
“Have to have better guard play. I was disappointed in (Russell, Hardy and Temple),” Marlin added. “They have to play better — and they have played better. And I expect better.”
UTA led 50-41 at halftime, but only after a 3-pointer from freshman Temple — who started at the point — fell and beat the buzzer.
Johnson led UL at the break with 14 points; no other Cajun had more than seven before halftime.
UTA, shooting 41.4% from the field on the season, hit 55.6% (20-of-36) in the opening half.
More:UL loses big at Georgia State without injured Wilson
UL played Thursday without usual starting forward Dou Gueye, who according to a team spokesman was out due to the flu.
“We missed Dou Gueye. … That’s for sure,” Marlin said.
The Cajuns also were without usual guards Mylik Wilson (knee) for a third straight game and Trajan Wesley (concussion, back) for a fourth consecutive game.
Marlin indicated that he does not expect Wilson to return anytime during UL’s current homestand, which ends Jan. 25 against UL Monroe.
But Hardy returned and started after missing seven games in a row.
Russell, UL’s No. 2 scorer, started Thursday despite a foot injury that had him visiting an orthopedist on Monday.
Related:Marlin's Cajuns could face more tough injury setbacks
BY THE NUMBERS
UL wound up shooting 35.6% from the field (21-of-59), including 24.1% from behind the long-distance line. … UTA wound up making 36% on trey tries, 5.2% above its season average coming in. … Limited by foul trouble, Tirus Smith had an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double in just 15 minutes for the Cajuns. … Radshad Davis led five Mavs in double figures with 18 points; Jabari Narcis had a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double for UTA. … The Cajuns won the battle of the boards 40-37 despite being without second-leading rebounder Gueye.
UL: (7-12, 2-6 in the Sun Belt Conference). UTA: (7-12, 3-5 in the Sun Belt).
UL plays host to Texas State, 7 p.m. Saturday at the Cajundome.