LAFAYETTE – Frank Bartley scored 19 points to lead six players in double figures and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns reopened the Cajundome with a blistering performance from the floor in a 101-69 win over Nicholls State before an announced crowd of 4,982 on Thursday.
Freshman Justin Miller added 18 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the floor while freshman P.J. Hardy scored 12 points off the bench as Louisiana (5-2) won its fifth straight game after finishing 40-for-68 (58.8 percent) from the floor, including 20-for-33 (60.6 percent) in the opening half.
“It was a great night to open the Dome,” head coach Bob Marlin said. “When we walked on the court tonight, it was an awesome feeling and I know that our guys appreciated it. The crowd was super. The atmosphere was electric. We had a great student section … they came out in great numbers and cheered us on. Everything about tonight was fantastic.”
Bryce Washington notched his fifth double-double of the season for the Ragin’ Cajuns with 11 points and 10 rebounds with Scott Plaisance and Jerekius Davis each posting career-bests with 10 points each.
Louisiana, averaging 87.2 points per game entering the contest, scored the game’s first nine points and never looked back against Nicholls State (4-4). Four different players scored buckets for the Cajuns in the opening three minutes as Miller, Washington and freshman Roydell Brown each scored on short baskets with Bartley draining a 3-pointer.
The Colonels, who opened the season with a win at Boston College scored their first bucket of the game on a Liam Thomas putback before Ja’Dante Frye hit a 3-pointer that cut the Louisiana lead to 9-5 at the 15:43 mark.
But Louisiana pushed the lead to 15-5 after buckets by Miller, Washington and Bartley and the Ragin’ Cajuns would take a 24-9 lead on a dunk by Plaisance with 9:56 remaining in the first half.
Nicholls trailed 48-35 at halftime and closed to within 56-46 when Frye hit a 3-pointer with 15:49 remaining. But Louisiana would put the game with an 18-4 run over the next 5:23 as Bartley sank a pair of 3-pointers and added a breakaway dunk while Hardy capped the run with a 3-pointer for a 74-50 lead with 9:17 left.
Louisiana extended its lead to 85-55 after a steal and dunk by Jay Wright with 6:47 remaining and the Ragin’ Cajuns would not let Nicholls State get as close as 27 points the rest of the night.
DeAndre Harris scored a game-high 21 points to lead Nicholls, which finished 24-for-54 (44.4 percent) from the floor and 3-for-18 (16.7 percent) from behind the 3-point line. Frye added 15 points for the Colonels with Johnathan Bell adding 10.
Louisiana will return to action on Saturday when it travels to Lake Charles to face McNeese State in a 1 p.m. contest at Burton Coliseum. The game will be televised on Cox Sports Television and streamed live on ESPN3.