Cajuns lose Trajan Wesley, can't complete comeback against South Alabama

Nick Fontenot
Special to The Advertiser
UL's Trajan Wesley makes a drive to the goal as the Ragin' Cajuns take on the Little Rock Trojans at the Cajundome on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019.

In a season that has seemingly seen everything that can go wrong go wrong, another unfortunate event happened for the Cajuns on Thursday against South Alabama

With the Cajuns trailing 42-31 at the 15:43 mark of the second half, Trajan Wesley — who had emerged as the starting point guard — went down with a hard fall, seemingly hitting his head on the floor. Wesley was carried off the floor on a stretcher and Cajuns officials offered no immediate update on his status.

The team, however, rallied around the moment and brought the team to within one shot of tying the game. UL coach Bob Marlin drew up a pair of solid plays out of a timeout, the first one being nullified by a foul on Mylik Wilson. 

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The second one was a familiar one to South Alabama. It was the same play the Cajuns ran in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament last year against the Jaguars. South Alabama blocked Jalen Johnson’s shot with 3 seconds to play and the Jaguars escaped the Cajundome with a 60-57 win.

“Coach drew up a really good play, but I feel like they knew it was coming,” said Cedric Russell, who was the shooter in last year’s game.

“They guarded it well and we tried to get what we could out of it, but it didn’t work out.”

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Marlin said the effort and energy from his team were high Thursday. The Cajuns shot 41 3-pointers — tying a school record for 3-point attempts — knocking down 12 of them. Marlin said the Jaguars played more zone defense than they had anticipated, which forced the Cajuns to settle for shots behind the arc.

“In the past, they have zoned us, but they have been playing 75% man defense in their last two games,” Marlin said. “We worked on zone offense and we knew they would play it. They did play it more often than we thought.”

Mylik Wilson led all Cajuns with 17 points — a new career-high. The Cajuns also got a solid effort from Dou Gueye who had 14 points. Marlin said both players are performing at a high level and he said the Cajuns need to take advantage of it.

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“Mylik jumped up and shot the ball with confidence tonight and he also had seven rebounds,” Marlin said. “He and Dou have given us two good games in a row. We need to build on that while their confidence is up.”

New walk-on Jaylon Williams played five minutes Thursday and went 1-of-2 from 3-point range. Marlin said he always needs unsung players to take on bigger roles, but now, in the midst of a six-game losing streak and being so deep into the bench for significant minutes, it’s more necessary than ever.

“We always need guys to step up,” Marlin said. “South Al is small and they played zone and we played a lot of our guards tonight. Jaylon came in; I’m sure he was a bit nervous, but he's done a good job in practice. He's worked hard and he can shoot the ball.

“I thought we showed a little punch tonight and we fought back. We rallied from down double figures to have a chance to tie the game on a couple of occasions. Our guys gave a great effort tonight.”

S. Alabama 60, UL 57

SOUTH ALABAMA (8-6) Ajayi 3-7 7-8 13, Mitchell 2-8 4-4 8, Fox 6-13 1-1 14, Locure 3-8 0-0 8, McGee 2-4 0-0 6, Lott 4-6 0-0 8, Pettway 0-2 3-4 3, Coleman 0-1 0-0 0, Morris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-49 15-17 60.

UL (5-9) Russell 4-13 0-0 12, Johnson 2-9 0-0 4, Wilson 6-10 0-0 17, Smith 1-3 1-2 3, Gueye 5-12 2-2 14, Wesley 0-4 4-4 4, Temple 0-2 0-0 0, Williams 1-2 0-0 3, Aucoin 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 19-58 7-8 57.

Halftime—South Alabama 28-25. 3-Point Goals_South Alabama 5-17 (Locure 2-3, McGee 2-4, Fox 1-6, Coleman 0-1, Mitchell 0-3), Louisiana-Lafayette 12-41 (Wilson 5-9, Russell 4-13, Gueye 2-4, Williams 1-2, Aucoin 0-2, Temple 0-2, Wesley 0-3, Johnson 0-6). Rebounds_South Alabama 32 (Ajayi 12), Louisiana-Lafayette 35 (Gueye 9). Assists_South Alabama 7 (Mitchell 2), Louisiana-Lafayette 16 (Russell 6). Total Fouls_South Alabama 14, Louisiana-Lafayette 13. A_3,256 (11,550).