Shorthanded Cajuns deliver heroic road victory in SBC opener in dominating fashion | UL Ragin’ Cajuns

The hurdles UL Ragin ‘Cajuns faced to enter Thursday’s Sun Belt Conference opening at Appalachian State were almost too many to count.

With head coach Bob Marlin not away due to COVID-19 and then five regulars banned after arriving in Boone, North Carolina, the Cajuns have dropped to nine players in total with four getting precious few minutes. so far this season.

Instead of withering away, the cardiac Cajuns flourished with a heroic wire-to-wire road win by dominating 71-55 over the Mountaineers.

“I told the guys in the locker room after the game that there probably weren’t many people outside our room who would really give us a chance tonight,” said interim UL manager Brock Morris after the win. “We are seven players down since the last time we played. The guys who had played the fewest minutes played significant minutes and then of course our coach, our leader, is out. There was just a lot of adversity. “

With the win, UL improved to 6-5 overall and 1-0 in the league and will now be at Coastal Carolina at 1pm on Saturday. The Chanticleers beat ULM 94-64 on Thursday’s first league match.

Morris and the team were informed shortly before Wednesday night’s training in Boone that Greg Williams, Kentrell Garnett, Dou Gueye, Isaiah Richards and Jalen Dalcourt would not all be available due to COVID-19.

Add in the fact that Brayan Au was injured and Antwann Jones is no longer on the schedule, leaving only nine players left.

Of those nine, four had only played a few minutes in Michael Thomas (59 minutes so far), Durey Cadwell (24), Ty Harper (39) and Carter Domingue (9).

“There were a lot of things people could have made excuses for and probably even give us a lift,” Morris said. “But everything that happened from the coach outside and Brayan (Au) who was unable to go this week and then the COVID guys, they never backed down.

“They lifted their chins, they were strong and they really had a next-man mentality.”

Harper came out great with 12 of 4 of 4 shooting points as the main ball carrier, three rebounds and three assists.

Cadwell, who had missed the last two seasons with knee injuries, responded when he was called to hit three 3s in six tries for nine points, five rebounds and two steals.

“It’s probably amazing for people who don’t see him every day, but the truth is, it’s his character,” Morris said of Cadwell. “He has always been a ready boy. He has had some very unfortunate events, but he is mentally strong and ready to play. I couldn’t be prouder of him.

“He’s truly a freshman on the field in Division I so to speak and for him to deal with those knee injuries and be ready when his number is called, I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Theo Akwuba, who has missed his last four games with a foot injury, came off the bench and scored 13 points with 11 rebounds in 26 minutes.

Jordan Brown continued to be his constant self with 16 points and eight rebounds to lead UL in scoring.

Freshman Joe Charles added eight points with a 3-point 2-for-4 from the ground. His two bombs came in the middle of the first half, taking UL’s lead to 27-9 with 7:34 left in the first half.

Trajan Wesley contributed five points, five rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes.

The Cajuns, who topped App 40-28, dominated the bench by scoring 24-9 as all nine dressed players played.

“We just leaned on those guys who hadn’t played,” Morris said. “We just said, ‘Look, do your job. Make your role and a superstar in your role. ‘ I thought they did. I thought Ty Harper was a superstar in his role, even Durey Cadwell and Carter Domingue gave us some good minutes to guard more people. “

Defensively, UL limited the Mountaineers to 23% 3-point ground shooting in the first half, opening a huge 43-19 lead at half time.

The UL led the league in defensive efficiency against Division I teams entering the match and extended that success.

“We tried to preach to our kids that defense has been our identity all year,” Morris said. “We have been trying to sell our players this week on the fact that this is who you are. We felt that our offense would come. Our defense has been there all year and I thought they did a really good job of setting a tone, establishing a presence and playing for our identity tonight. “

The impromptu lineup shot 42.1% off the ground from 3 points and 49.1% overall from the pitch for the match.

“They believe in themselves and they have believed in each other,” Morris said. “It was beautiful to see. There has never been one (doubt), not once. There has never been a doubt all along.”

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