Cajun veterans provide big plays in early Sun Belt win.

LOUISIANA La. The scoreboard told an unfriendly tale.

The University ofLouisiana trailed the Denver Pioneers by 9 points with 3 minutes remaining in last Saturday's Sun Belt Conference opener for both schools.

No Jessie Evans team had ever started with a loss in Sun Belt play, so something had to be done.

"I was thinking, I don't want to start out 0-1," senior guard Brad Boyd said. "Coach told us we had to step up like seniors. Laurie (Bridges) had fouled out, but Antoine Landry and I looked at each other and knew we had to step up.

"We got a steal here or there, and the last couple of minutes we got three or four transition baskets. One (Denver) guy missed one free throw the whole game, and he missed. They kind of crashed under the pressure."

The Pioneers' on-campus facility almost got the best of the visitors.

"Their place is kind of short," Boyd said. "We're used to rebounding, getting one or two passes and taking a shot. But there, they were already back on defense.

"So, instead of rebounding and shooting, we'd get a turnover and a shot."

A second factor was Denver's mile high elevation, legendary for leaving visitors winded.

"The big thing is, it's a mind thing," Boyd said. "My legs were kind of weak. We were all winded, tired, sluggish."

Somehow, though, the Cajuns prevailed 83-81 and enter tonight's home game against South Alabama with a 6-4 overall record and 1-0 mark in league action.

Boyd, Landry, Bridges and Chris Williams are the seniors Evans hopes will carry the burden of leadership down the stretch.

The rest of the story

Bruce Brown