Second-Half Rally Comes Up Short For Cajuns

LOS ANGELES – Shawn Long posted his 57th career double-double scoring a season-high 26 points and grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds, but No. 22-ranked UCLA fought off a second-half rally by the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns and earned an 89-80 victory on Tuesday at Pauley Pavilion.

Bryce Alford scored a game-high 27 points to lead three players in double figures as UCLA (8-3) won its fifth straight game that included victories over nationally-ranked programs Kentucky and Gonzaga. Tony Parker and Isaac Hamilton each added 19 points for the Bruins, who led by as many as 19 points in the first half before Louisiana (3-5) cut the lead to 63-59 on a 3-pointer by Hayward Register with 10:13 remaining in the game.

"We were a little disappointed in the way we started the ball game," head coach Bob Marlin said. "I don't think we had the focus we needed to play a team as good as UCLA. I don't think we were guarding, and UCLA got off to a great start shooting the basketball. We knew Bryce (Alford) could do it, but the other guys shot the ball well."

Louisiana missed its first six shots of the game as UCLA opened with an 8-0 lead after a bucket by Hamilton with 16:27 remaining in the first half. The Bruins took a 12-2 lead at the 15:00 mark after a 3-pointer by Jonah Bolden before using a 12-3 run that was capped by an Alford bucket for a 37-18 lead with 6:57 left in the half.

Alford, who finished 10-for-15 from the floor and 4-for-6 from behind the 3-point line, ended the half with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Bruins a 47-32 lead before Johnathan Stove's 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the lead to 47-35 at the half.

Louisiana quickly got the game back into single-digits as a pair of jumpers by Jay Wright and a basket by Long got the Ragin' Cajuns to within 49-42. UCLA pushed its lead back to 56-45 after a bucket by Parker, but Louisiana would chip away at the lead.

A bucket by Wright, who finished with 14 points, and a 3-pointer by Register with 12:20 remaining in the game closed the Ragin' Cajuns deficit to 60-54. Jay Hedgeman later added a jumper and Register added his third 3-pointer of the night that cut the Bruins lead to 63-59.

But Noah Allen, who was 0-for-3 from the floor in 12 minutes of play during the season, drained a 3-pointer from the left wing and Parker added a pair of free throws to extend UCLA's lead to 68-59 with 9:25 left.

"We fought back to get it to a workable amount at halftime, which gave us a little bit of juice for the second half, and we just told the guys to keep battling," Marlin said. "We felt good to get back in it and get it to within four, but then (Noah) Allen jumps up and scores his first points of the year with a three-point shot, and they stretched it out. But I'm proud of the guys for continuing to fight."

Long, who finished 10-for-23 from the field, moved into sole possession of fifth-place on the Sun Belt career list in blocked shots with 225. Shepherd finished with 15 points and five assists for the Ragin' Cajuns, who finished 29-for-68 (42.6 percent) from the floor and 13-for-33 (39.4 percent) from behind the 3-point line. Wright added 14 points and five assists for the Ragin' Cajuns while Register added nine points and Steven Wronkoski six.

UCLA held a 38-33 advantage on the boards – the first opponent in 2015-16 to outrebound the Ragin' Cajuns – as Parker grabbed a team-high nine. The Bruins finished 31-for-56 (55.4 percent) from the floor and 9-for-17 (52.9 percent) from behind the 3-point line.


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