The win improved the Cajuns to 10-17 on the year and 6-10 in Sun Belt play, good for third place in the west division while Florida Atlantic slipped to 12-16 overall and 7-10 in league action.
Tied at 50-all, Jordan McCoy made a layup and George Gantt made a 3-pointer to put Louisiana 55-50 with 4:25 remaining.
After Payton's layup cut the deficit to three, Gantt made a jumper to push the lead back to five, 57-52.
After Bryant Mbamalu and Payton converted the four free throws with 34 seconds left to make it a one-point game, 57-56, Payton made a layup with 6 seconds to go put the Ragin' Cajuns on top 58-57. Payton then stole the ball with a second left to seal the victory.
"Not only did Elfrid make the shot, but he had the presence to not celebrate and get back defensively to make the defensive play. That's the sign of a leader," Marlin added.
Long led four Cajuns in double figures with 16 points and eight rebounds while Payton added 14, Thompson 13 and Mbamalu 10. Gantt led the Owl with 18 point, but went six-for-24 from the field, while Bertone came off the bench to added 13 points. Jordan McCoy scored eight points with 17 rebounds, the most by a Louisiana opponent this year.
"This was a great win for us tonight," Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin said. "We weren't at our best and the guys we normally rely on didn't have their normal performances, but we still got the win. That is a great sign as post-season play approaches."
The Cajuns remain at home next week to close out the 2012-13 home schedule by hosting Troy on Thursday (Feb. 21) at 7:00 p.m. and WKU on Saturday (Feb. 23) at 7:30 p.m.
Cajuns Hold Off Florida Atlantic 58-57
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