Rimmer, Shepherd lead Cajuns past Northwestern State

Staff Report

Xavian Rimmer and Kasey Shepherd combined for 37 of Louisiana-Lafayette’s 54 bench points and Shawn Long posted his fourth double-double of the season as the Cajuns raced past Northwestern State 105-74 Wednesday in the Cajundome.
Long scored 22 points and recorded 15 rebounds in the win, the third straight for the Cajuns (5-2). Northwestern State, which owns a win at Auburn this year, dropped to 2-3.
With Northwestern State wanting to play an up-tempo style, the Cajuns beat them at their own game, shooting .532 from the field (33-62), .576 from three-point range (10-21) and had a 25-12 lead in points off turnovers.
Long racked up a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds by halftime. He picked up his fourth foul with 12:13 left and went to the bench, never to return.
Elfrid Payton, who registered 20-point games in the first five contests this year, struggled in the first half and then quickly picked up his third and fourth fouls in the second half. He went to the bench at the 18:05 mark and returned late, finishing the game with seven points, five assists and four rebounds.
“We were fortunate in the first half to get a lead,” ULL coach Bob Marlin said in a university release. “We pushed the ball and extended it and made some really nice plays and had a nice spurt. We reminded the guys that they were down at Auburn by 14 and scored 72 points in the second half to beat them by 22.
“True to form, they made a hard push early in the second half, and we got in foul trouble,” Marlin added. “Because of our lack of transition defense and the way the game was being called, we had to back off and sit in a 2-3 zone. We didn’t think they would shoot the ball well, and we guessed right. We were able to push it to 30 and then defensive rebound down the stretch and hold them to just one shot.”
With Payton in foul trouble, Shepherd and Rimmer stepped up.
Rimmer scored 13 of his 20 points in the first half, going five-for-seven from 3-point range. It was the second straight 20-point effort for the junior from Piney Woods, Miss., who scored a career-high 21 points in Sunday’s win at Coastal Carolina.
Shepherd played a season-high 27 minutes, scoring 17 points with six rebounds and set career highs for assists (6) and steals (3). He excelled at running the floor in transition.
“We told Kasey to attack,” Marlin said. “He’s got great speed so we went to him early. We knew it was a game where we would need his speed. He was very aggressive, drove to the basket, drew some fouls and made all of his free throws.
“Xavian is a winner. He’s a great shooter, and he needs to be aggressive. He’s got a lot of confidence right now,” Marlin added.
Jalan West led four Demon starters in doubles figures with 16 points, while DeQuam Hicks and Brison White had 11 points each and Zikiteran Woodley added 10 points.
The difference in the game proved to be shooting. The Cajuns shot better than 50-percent for the third time this season and had eight or more treys for the fourth straight game.
At the other end of the court, Northwestern State managed just .385 shooting (25-65) and was just four-for-25 from 3-point range (.160). The Demons made their first six shots but quickly cooled.
Marlin was happy with the play of the Cajuns as Elridge Moore (8 points, 9 rebounds), Steven Wronkoski (6 points), Kevin Brown (8 points), Hayward Register (6 points) and J.J. Davenport (7 points, 5 rebounds) each turned in strong performances
The teams traded baskets during the game’s first 11 minutes as the contest featured two ties and seven lead changes.
With the Cajuns leading 27-25 with 7:54 left, Louisiana-Lafayette went on a 23-5 burst to take control.
Rimmer started things off by scoring seven of the first nine points in the spurt, and Long finished it with six of the last eight.
The lead eventually grew to 53-32 with 2:26 remaining on a Kevin Brown three-pointer before the Cajuns took a 55-36 lead into the locker room.
The Demons started the second half quickly, closing to within 62-48 with 16:02 left.
But with both Payton and Long on the bench, the Cajuns rattled off 24 of the next 31 points to build an 86-55 lead with 8:20 left and never look back.
After playing seven games in a 19-day span to open the season, the Cajuns now will take the next six days off before returning to the court Wednesday for a 6:30 p.m. road game at Louisiana Tech. It will be the second of four straight games against teams that advanced to post-season play in 2012-13.

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