Balanced Effort Leads Ragin' Cajuns Win

LAFAYETTE – Junior college transfer Jay Hedgeman scored 19 points to lead five players in double figures and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns forced 26 turnovers in earning a 104-72 exhibition victory over Mississippi College on Monday at the Cajundome.

Newcomer Tyrone Wooten added 16 points for the Ragin' Cajuns with Johnathan Stove (14), Kasey Shepherd (13) and Shawn Long (11) all reaching double figures. Wooten added a team-high six rebounds and four assists as the Ragin' Cajuns never trailed in the game against the Division II Choctaws.

"It was a dress rehearsal tonight and the opportunity to take the floor for the first time against another opponent," head coach Bob Marlin said. "Mississippi College has a nice team with three returning starters that were their three leading scorers last year. (Tory) Rice was really good for them, he finished as the leading scorer in the game and got the free throw line a lot.

"We certainly fouled too much. That's one thing that we talked about (in preseason), but until live with NCAA officials, we knew that would be a concern."

Louisiana used a 20-3 run the first half to build 37-18 lead with 8:06 remaining in the first half. Shepherd, who finished 5-for-8 from the floor and 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line, scored five straight points after Mississippi College got to within 17-15 on David Fisher's 3-pointer at the 13:12 mark.

Shepherd scored on a layup before hitting a 3-pointer to give the Ragin' Cajuns a 22-15 lead with 12:30 remaining in the first half. Hedgeman, who was 5 of 7 from the field and 8-for-9 from the charity stripe, converted a three-point play for a 25-16 lead before Shepherd scored the next eight points, which included a pair of 3-pointers, for a 33-18 advantage.

"He showed great versatility, he's able to make 3-point shots, is very active and came up with some steals and rebounds," Marlin said of Hedgeman, a Houston, Texas native. "He's a very good passer and a team player and he brings a lot of energy to the court."

Mississippi College closed to within 39-30 after Johnny Rucker buried a 3-pointer, but the Ragin'; Cajuns quickly pushed the lead back up to double digits, as Long gave up a wide-open slam by using a pass through the legs with Hedgeman capitalizing with an emphatic dunk for a 51-32 lead with 1:14 left in the half.

A 3-pointer by Hayward Register to open the second half gave Louisiana a 56-34 lead before Tiremone Williams' three-point play with 3:14 left gave the Ragin' Cajuns their biggest lead of the night, 102-67.

Louisiana finished 36-for-71 from the floor (50.7 percent), 22-for-25 from the free throw line (88.0 percent) and 10-for-26 (38.5 percent) from behind the 3-point line. Stove recorded five of the Ragin' Cajuns 14 steals on the night with Long, who went 5-for-7 from the floor, finishing with three blocks, two assists and two steals.

"We shot the ball well for just being in the building (Cajundome) for one day," Marlin said. "We practiced last night and had shootaround today. It's a different backdrop in here. I thought we shot the ball good today in shootaround and it carried over into the game."

Rice led all scorers with 23 points as he finished 6-for-10 from the floor and 11 of 15 from the charity stripe. Rucker and Stacey Mack each scored 10 points for the Choctaws with Jonathan McGee leading the team with three assists.

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