Caldwell’s dunk helps Lions hold off Troy for 72-68 road win

Published 11:07 am Monday, December 6, 2021

Nick Caldwell broke a 68-68-tie with 20 seconds left as he got an offensive rebound and slammed it down with his left hand to help lift the Southeastern Louisiana University men’s basketball team to a 72-68 win over Troy Sunday afternoon at Trojan Arena.

SLU (4-5) had four players score in double figures led by Keon Clergeot with 17 points. Junior Joe Kasperzyk chipped in with 14 points and four steals while Jalyn Hinton scored 13 and had four blocked shots. Caldwell added 11 including the big offensive put back.

Troy (5-4) was led by Efe Odigie with 18 points and 12 rebounds on 8-for-12 shooting while Zay Williams and Duke Miles each scored in double figures with 12 and 10 points respectively.

In the first half, the two teams played toe-to-toe as neither team led by more than four points in the half. But SLU held a slim, 33-31, lead at halftime. Despite the tightly contested first half, the Lions held the Trojans to 14-for-35 from the field (39. 1 percent) for the half.

Early in the second half, the Trojans took a 41-38 lead with 15:46 left in the game. However, the Lions had an answer.

Following the media timeout, SLU exploded on a 12-0 run highlighted by eight points from freshman Roger McFarlane (two three-pointers and two free throws) giving the Lions a 50-41 lead.

SLU led by as many as 11, 60-49, thanks to a three-pointer by Matthew Strange from the corner and seemed on their way to a relatively uneventful win as they led 67-57 with 5:34 left in the game. However, the Trojans went on a 11-1 run to tie the game at 68-68 with 46 seconds left.

On the following possession, the Lions isolated Clergeot who got a good look from 15 feet away on the elbow. The shot hit the front rim but Caldwell came flying in with his left hand to slam the put back down to break the tie. After the Lions got a stop on the defensive end, Clergeot hit two free throws with eight seconds left to seal the win.

The Lions also were able to pick up the win despite Gus Okafor rolling his ankle in the first half and Antonio Gordon missing the entire game with a knee injury. SLU got 26 points from the bench including Caldwell’s 11, McFarlane with nine and Matthew Strange with six.

“I’m just happy for our guys,” said SLU men’s basketball head coach David Kiefer. “We had the next-man-up mentality and got huge minutes off the bench from Nick (Caldwell) Matt Strange and Roger McFarlane. The entire team fought the entire game despite some careless turnovers we had late in the game. But I’m really proud of our grit tonight.”

Southeastern finished the game 26-for-55 from the field for 47 percent while Troy was 28-for-67 for 41 percent. While the Lions were outrebounded, 38-34, they were 14-for-20 from the free throw line while the Trojans were 6-for-11.

Next up, Southeastern will take on Southern (La.) Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on the road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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