Cajuns Fall Short to Robert Morris

Cajuns Fall Short to Robert Morris

Robert Morris withstood a strong challenge from Louisiana and escaped with a 66-61 victory Tuesday at the Cajundome Tuesday night.

"We fought, had the lead and an opportunity to win the game," commented Cajun coach Bob Marlin, who lamented the fact that his team played excellent defense but couldn't overcome the hot-shooting visitors, who he called "the class of their league."

Bryant Mbamalu led all scorers with 21 points, Elfrid Payton contributed 19 more and Shawn Long added 12 to lead the Cajuns.

Marvel Anderson paced the Colonials with 17 points, Coron Williams had 16 and Velton Jones scored 12.

Louisiana (4-8, 1-1) led early as Payton and Mbamalu combined to give the Cajuns an 11-8 lead four minutes into the contest.

Torrid shooting from the beyond the arc put Robert Morris (8-4, 0-0) up midway through the first half, as the more-experienced visitors worked to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.

Trailing 24-17 with 10:52 to go, the Cajuns battled back with Wronkoski completing the hoop and harm to draw Louisiana within four, but as quickly as the home team closed the gap, RMU was able to re-open their seven point advantage.

A steal by Long, and a couple of full-court breakaways by Payton triggered a rally and the Cajuns again shaved the deficit, 33-31.

That was as close as the Cajuns would get the rest of the half, as the mad-bombing visitors exited the floor with a 40-34 halftime lead.

Not that the Cajuns didn't have opportunities themselves to erase the deficit, but cold free-throw shooting down the stretch made the task that much more difficult.

The Cajuns were 7-15 from the stripe in the first half, while the Colonials shot 3-4 in the same period. Conversely, Robert Morris was 7-14 from three-point range in the first half while the Cajuns were merely 1-7.

Long's hard-fought bucket and free throw brought the pesky Cajuns within one 40-39 in the first two minutes of the second half, and the forward from Morgan City's put-back minutes later evened the score at 45.

Mbamalu nailed a three from the corner near the Cajun bench at the 13:40 mark to give the Cajuns their first lead since early in the game.

When Payton added a couple of deuces to put the excited Cajuns ahead 52-47 with 12:09 to play, the tables had turned. Suddenly, the home squad had given the smallish holiday crowd something to cheer for, if only for a short time.

Three consecutive three-pointers put Robert Morris back in the lead 56-52 as the teams rounded the turn and headed for home.

Mbamalu and Williams traded threes in the last two and a half minutes, but Anderson's dagger three doubled a three-point advantage with less than a minute to play allowing the Colonials to escape with the victory.

The Cajuns return to action Saturday evening at the Cajundome against Duquesne.

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