SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Freshman James Douglas scored a game-high 21 points in his collegiate debut, but Louisiana shot 62% for the game and scored 46 points in the paint to record an 83-66 win on the opening day of the 2011 Hilltop Challenge in San Francisco. Junior Michael Dunn and freshman Ephraim Ekanem also score in double-digits for the Lumberjacks, who outrebounded the Rajin Cajuns 36-30.
Louisiana jumped to an early 8-0 lead before Douglas knocked down a pair of free throws to put NAU on the board. After going down 12-2, NAU fought back to take a 23-21 lead on a basket by Ekanem at the 7:22 mark. Unfortunately the lead would be the only one of the game for the Lumberjacks, as Louisiana ended the first half on a 19-4 run over the ensuing seven minutes to take a 40-27 lead into the break.
The Ragin Cajuns maintained their substantial lead well into the second half, opening up a 21 point advantage at 65-44 with 10:20 remaining in the contest. NAU again would get some momentum going, bringing the deficit to as few as nine points at 74-65 with just over four minutes remaining. Down 76-65, NAU missed a three-point attempt and Louisiana answered with a long ball of their own to put the game out of reach. The Ragin Cajuns outscored NAU 9-1 over the last four minutes to close strong and earn the season-opening victory.
Douglas went 5-13 from the field and 8-9 from the free-throw line, hitting a trio of threes in his first NAU game. NAU shot 35% for the contest, improving its shooting in the second half to 39% after struggling through the first 20 minutes. The Lumberjacks totaled 18 offensive rebounds while allowing just six for Louisiana, with junior Stallon Saldivar grabbing all-four of his boards in the game on the offensive glass. Dunn finished with 11 points while Ekanem had 10 and grabbed five rebounds. 11 NAU players saw at least nine minutes of action in the opener.
The Lumberjacks will be back in action Saturday night at 7 p.m. Arizona time when they will face the tournament-host USF Dons, who lost to North Dakota State, 73-65, in the first game on Friday. Saturday's broadcast will air online with the pregame show beginning at 6:45. Click here to access the broadcast.