South Alabama basketball falls just short vs. Louisiana, 79-76

Playing without their best big man, a South Alabama basketball team didn’t hold up against Louisiana at the Mitchell Center on Saturday.

The Jaguars had a seven-point lead at halftime, but lost 79-76 after 11 lead changes. The Raging Cajuns scored his 5 of his 7 points in the final after he tied 74-74 in his final 70 seconds.

South Alabama (8-10, 2-4 Sun Belt Conference) was without star center Kevin Samuel, who averaged 11.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, but was sidelined with a sore knee. Back-up Marshall Kiering responded with a career-high 15 points for him, but the Jaguars weren’t able to stop enough defense in the final minute.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a way to win the game,” said South Alabama coach Richie Riley. “…The last six minutes, those guys fought. They fought harder than we’ve had all year, even when we won. They fought one of the teams.” They’ve earned a lot of trust from me, and I think that’s going to help us out a notch.”

Louisiana’s Kobe Julian scored a go-ahead bucket with 1:09 remaining and Kearing was called on as goaltender. After South Alabama turned the ball over in the ensuing possession, Themus Folks scored two more and with 23 seconds left he let the Ragin ‘Cajuns take his 78-74 lead (14-4, 4 -2).

Isaiah Moore’s driving layup cut Louisiana’s lead to 2 to 78-76 with 16.4 seconds remaining and Terrence Lewis missed both free throws after being fouled with 7.8 seconds remaining. However, Greg his Williams racked up his Cajuns rebound and scored the first free throw after a foul with 5.5 seconds remaining to make him 79-76.

However, Williams missed out on the second prize and South Alabama’s Judah Brown rebounded. After Williams made the free throw, the scoreboard was not updated and Louisiana was shown with a 2 instead of his 3. And Brown didn’t shoot in the confusion.

“Judas wasn’t much in the moment and the ball found him,” Riley said. “He dribbled and shot in arcs. I wish he had put one up because he could have made it.

“But in the free-throw boxout[when Lewis missed his second shot]if we could get it, we’d be in a different situation. There were no timeouts and we were happy with the lineup. … We just missed the box and they got it, it was a deadly missed opportunity.”

Despite the loss, South Alabama played one of their best offensive games of the season, shooting 55.9% and making nine 3-pointers. Moore scored 21 points on his six assists, while Brown scored 12 points on all four of his three-point attempts.

Owen White and Jamer Franklin each scored 10 points and both made crucial 3-pointers in the final four minutes of the game. Caring, who had a career-high scoring total and seven rebounds, started on Saturday in place of Samuel, who injured his knee, in Thursday’s 63-62 victory over James Madison. He said he found out in the morning.

“It was great to be out there with my teammates and prove that I can play more,” said Kiering, who has played a total of six minutes in the Jaguars’ last five Sunbelt games. “…It was tough without a good scorer and defender like Kevin Samuel. I was able to play with confidence and get through that fatigue.”

Preseason Sunbelt Player of the Year center Jordan Brown was a big hit for Louisiana with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Williams added 19 on his Cajuns raging, which included his 4 of his 3-pointers.

Joe Charles was Louisiana’s only double-digit player with 13 points. From the field he shot 57.4% and attempted 17 free throws for the Ragin ‘Cajuns, while in South Alabama he made just five.

“I can’t say enough about Marshall Kiering,” Riley said. “He showed up today and really performed. He wagged his tail. I was proud.

South Alabama will be back in action on Thursday in Southern Miss. Tip-off is set for 7pm in Hattiesburg.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *