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Little Rock outlasts Louisiana in overtime thriller

Little Rock overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to take over sole possession of first place in the West Division at 3-1, improving to 7-4 on the year.
Credit: Mark Wagner

LAFAYETTE, La. — Another slugfest in southern Louisiana wasn’t resolved after 40 minutes as Little Rock gets clutch shooting and a pair of big defensive stops in overtime to outlast Louisiana 78-76 at the Cajundome.

Little Rock overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to take over sole possession of first place in the West Division at 3-1, improving to 7-4 on the year. It marked the largest deficit the Trojans had overcome to win a game this season, besting the seven-point hole against both Central Arkansas and UT Arlington.

Ruot Monyyong had another impressive performance, scoring 19 points and grabbing 16 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season, and 23rd of his Trojan career, leading four Trojans that finished in double figures.

Game Notes

• Once again, Little Rock and Louisiana staged a classic down in the Cajundome, combining for six ties and 19 lead changes. For the two game weekend series, the two teams combined for 23 ties and 32 lead changes.

• Monyyong tallied 36 points and 29 rebounds in the two games against the Ragin’ Cajuns, averaging 18.0 points and 14.5 rebounds over the weekend. He was 5-of-10 from the floor and 9-of-11 from the free throw line, including four in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime.

• Isaiah Palermo notched a career-high 17 points off the bench for Little Rock, shooting 5-of-12 from the floor and going 7-for-9 from the free throw line with five rebounds and four steals in 40 minutes of play, also a career-high.

• Markquis Nowell posted 15 points with three assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals in 26 minutes, knocking down four of his five free throws. Nikola Maric added 12 points of his own before fouling out late in the second half.

• Ben Coupet Jr. (eight points) and Marko Andric (seven) combined to register the other 15 points for the Trojans as the duo went 7-for-10 from the floor on the night.

• For the game, Little Rock shot 42.9% (27-of-63) but struggled from three-point range, making just two of its 16 attempts (12.5%). A solid night at the free throw line (22-of-30), helped spark the second half comeback and the overtime lead.

• Little Rock and Louisiana were even with 35 rebounds apiece as the Trojans held a 12-8 edge in offensive boards. The two teams were also even in points in the paint at 34-34. 23 fouls for Louisiana, compared to just 14 for Little Rock, led to a 30-10 edge in free throw attempts for the Trojans.

• The overtime contest for Little Rock was the first for the Trojans since the 102-94 loss at Georgetown on December 22, 2018. Head coach Darrell Walker is 2-1 during his Trojan tenure in games that extend beyond regulation.

• The rivalry between Little Rock and Louisiana continues to develop into one of the best in the Sun Belt as today’s game marked the third time in the last four games the game was decided by one possession. It marked the sixth overtime game between the Trojans and Ragin’ Cajuns since 2009.

• One night after the bizarre ending to the 66-64 win for the Ragin’ Cajuns, the lights stayed on for all 45 minutes of Saturday’s game.

First Half Notes

• The opening half was another back-and-forth affair similar to Friday’s slugfest as Little Rock and Louisiana combined for four ties and 10 lead changes over the opening 20 minutes.

• Louisiana opened up a five-point lead early at 12-7, but Little Rock was able to flip that to a three-point Trojan advantage at 18-15 following an and-one from Palermo and a layup from Nowell.

• Palermo had a strong opening half for Little Rock, scoring 11 points off the bench. His jumper at the 7:15 mark gave Little Rock the 22-21 advantage, but that would be the final time the Trojans saw themselves on the plus side of the scoreboard.

• Louisiana outscored the Trojans 21-10 over the final seven minutes to take the 42-32 lead into intermission. The run included four Ragin’ Cajun blocks as the Trojans were held to just two field goals over the final seven minutes.

• Little Rock shot just 33% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes (10-of-30) and missed all nine three-point attempts. The Trojan free throw shooting kept Little Rock competitive as the Trojans knocked down 12 of their 14 attempts (85.7%) while holding an 18-15 rebounding edge.

• Louisiana found its scoring touch early, converting on 17 of its 30 shots (56.7%) while hitting 5-of-9 from three point range (55.65). The Ragin’ Cajuns also used its play in the paint to their advantage, outscoring the Trojans 20-14.

Second Half Notes

• Louisiana’s Akwuba had the first six points of the second half for the Ragin’ Cajuns as Louisiana remained on top by eight off a dunk at the 17:52 mark.

• But that sparked a 13-2 Trojan run, turning a 46-38 deficit to a 51-48 lead at the 13:36 mark. Little Rock went 5-for-5 during the run as the long jumper from Monyyong at the 16:33 mark gave him his 23rd career double-double.

• Little Rock’s defense frustrated Louisiana for an extended stretch in the second half as the Ragin’ Cajuns connected on just one of nine attempts over a four minute span. Jumpers by Nowell and Palermo gave Little Rock the 56-55 lead at the 9:11 mark.

• The Trojans and Cajuns would battle back and forth over the final nine minutes with neither team leading by more than a possession. Trailing 66-63 with 2:36 to go, Monyyong converted a pair of free throws, then a clutch and-one by Nowell tied the game at 68-68 with 42 seconds remaining.

• With time winding down, Nowell forced a Louisiana steal and called timeout, giving the Trojans the chance for the win. A long three from the junior point guard rattled in and out, sending the game to overtime.

• Little Rock was 14-of-27 from the floor in the second half (51.9%), but still struggled from beyond the arc, going just 1-for-5. The Trojans knocked down seven of their 11 free throws while grabbling 14 rebounds.

Overtime Notes

• A jumper from Nowell early in the overtime period gave Little Rock the 70-68 lead, only to be matched by three free throws by the Ragin’ Cajuns to take the 71-70 lead. An and-one from Maric, followed by a pair of clutch free throws from Monyyong, gave the Trojans the 75-71 lead with 1:41 remaining.

• Louisiana answered with a three pointer to cut the deficit to one at 75-74, but Nowell converted a key three pointer with 56 seconds remaining, pushing Little Rock’s lead back to four at 78-74.

• A Ragin’ Cajun basket and a defensive stop gave Louisiana the ball with three seconds remaining. But the long inbound pass was stolen by Bankston, helping preserve the win for the Trojans.

Up Next

• Little Rock will return home next weekend, getting set to take on Texas State for the first time this season. The Trojans and Bobcats will tip at 6 p.m. Friday at the Jack Stephens Center, followed by a 4 p.m. start on Saturday.