NEW ORLEANS – No. 10 seed Little Rock’s season came to an end with a 78-71 loss to seventh-seeded Louisiana in the Sun Belt Tournament on Wednesday at Lakefront Arena.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (21-11) outscored Little Rock (15-17) by eight over the final 20 minutes while making 27 of 31 free throws in the second half.
Little Rock led by one at halftime, but Louisiana made its first four shots of the second half to build a 41-35 lead. The Cajuns’ hot shooting continued, as Louisiana went up by as many as 10, 55-45, with 9:53 to play. The Trojans answered with a 6-0 run to pull within 55-51 with 6:52 remaining.
Little Rock pulled within four three more times in the final stretch. The final time, Jalen Jackson’s jumper made it 63-59 with 2:08 to play. But Louisiana was able to get it done at the foul line to close the game, making 21 of its final 22 free throws, including 15 straight at one point.
Louisiana made just one field goal over the final 10:22 of the game.
Marcus Johnson Jr. led the Trojans with 14 points. Kemy Osse scored 13 while Jackson and Lis Shoshi added nine each. Maurius Hill scored seven points. The Trojans shot 47.5 percent as a team.
Louisiana shot 47.7 percent, and 52.9 percent after halftime. Jay Wright led the Cajuns with 24 points. Justin Miller scored 20 while Bryce Washington (12) and Johnathan Stove (11) both finished in double figures.
Little Rock’s bench outscored the Cajuns’ reserves 28-5. The Trojans won the glass 33-31, including 14-10 on the offensive end.
Little Rock took an early lead, but missed five straight shots while Louisiana went on a 7-0 run to build an 11-6 lead eight minutes into the game. The Trojans answered by connecting on four of their next five shots – capped by Jackson’s steal and slam – to take a 14-13 lead. The two teams traded leads from there, with both combining to make 10 straight shots at one point.
With Louisiana leading 28-26 late in the half, Deondre Burns scored five straight points to put Little Rock up 31-28. Justin Miller’s basket with 1:11 until halftime made the score 31-30 entering the break.