LAFAYETTE, La. (UALR) - UALR (12-13, 7-6 SBC) rallied from a 19-point deficit to force two overtime periods, but Louisiana (16-9, 7-5 SBC) pulled away with an 8-0 run in the second extra frame to win 93-87 Thursday evening at the Cajundome. UALR was forced to finish the game with four players after injuries and foul trouble depleted the Trojan squad.
"I'm very proud of our team," said head coach Steve Shields following the game. "We never use excuses. I thought our guys showed a lot of effort, togetherness and courage. Coming into tonight, we felt like we needed to win the glass and we ended up winning it by eight. I thought that was very important to us. Our guys played hard. You've got to give Louisiana credit in that they made some plays they had to make."
Already without seniors Will Neighbour and Leroy Isler due to injuries, sophomore Kemy Osse went down in the first half and five other UALR players fouled out before the end of the second overtime period. Freshman Maurius Hill, who scored a career-best 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, was the final Trojan to foul out and forced the team to play the final 10 seconds with four players.
After rallying to force both extra periods, UALR quickly built an 82-20 lead in the second overtime period on a layup by junior DeVonte Smith. Things went south for the Trojans from there, as Louisiana went on a 9-0 run before a layup by freshman Andrew Poulter stopped the spurt and made it 89-84 with 18.7 seconds remaining. UALR pulled within four on a trey by Smith with 10 seconds remaining, but UL made both free throws after being fouled on the inbounds to put the game out of reach.
Sophomore Josh Hagins led all scorers with a career-best 24 points to go along with eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. Smith added 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting while junior Ben Dillard added 10 points to give UALR four players in double figures. Sophomore Stetson Billings made his second career start and pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds.
The Trojans finished the game with a 44-to-36 edge on the glass, including a season-high 19 offensive rebounds. The Cajuns shot 47.3 percent from the floor and connected on 33 of 48 free throw attempts on the night (68.8 percent).
Elfrid Payton led Louisiana with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Xavian Rimmer added 20 points while going 8-of-10 from the foul line.
Trailing by as many as 19 and down 12 at halftime, UAL R cut the margin to single digits on a jumper by Hagins that made it 62-53 with 8:08 to play - the first time UALR's deficit got below 10 since the 11-minute mark of the first half. The Trojans pulled within seven on an old-fashioned 3-point play by Dillard less than a minute later and got the margin to six on a finish by Billings with 5:42 to play.
Now down five, a 3-pointer by Smith made it 70-68 with 2:38 to play. UL pushed its lead back to four on free throws by Payton, and a free throw by Smith again made it a three-point margin. Trailing 72-69, Hagins pulled up and drained a triple with 48 seconds to play to tie the game. Both teams came up empty on their final possessions of regulation, with Hagins missing a jumper on UALR's end in the final seconds.
UALR took its first lead since the opening minutes on a jumper by Hill at the 74-73 at the 4:29 mark of overtime. The teams swapped leads three times over the next 90 seconds, with Payton putting Louisiana up one, 77-76, on jumper with 3:05 to go. JJ Davenport added a free throw with 48 seconds left to get UL's lead back to two.
A Hagins putback on a Hill miss with 27 seconds remaining tied the game at 78-all. Holding for the final shot, Payton banked in a long two to give the Cajuns an 80-78 lead with 1.8 seconds remaining. Following a UALR timeout, Hagins was fouled on the catch of a full-length inbounds, giving him the opportunity to tie the game at the foul line. The sophomore hit both, and UALR knocked away UL's inbounds attempt to send the game into its second extra period.
UALR will return to action on Saturday when it takes on ULM in Fant-Ewing Coliseum. Start time is set for 2 p.m.