Fans hold hope until Cajuns late fade

From the high-end wine rooms of Lafayette to the boisterous sports bars, Ragin’ Cajuns fans who could get away with it slipped out of work early Friday to watch the University of Louisiana at Lafayette men’s basketball team play a hard-fought contest against Creighton University.

The game in San Antonio was the Cajuns’ first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2005. This time, in the West Region of the tournament, the No. 14 seed Cajuns took on the No. 3 Bluejays of Creighton University.

The Cajuns lost by 10 points, 76-66, but they didn’t disappoint.

“They competed, that’s for sure,” Chance Reon said at Marley’s in downtown Lafayette, where some 50 fans tuned into the bar’s many television sets.

Unlike in the Sun Belt final played in New Orleans on Sunday, when the Cajuns won a nail-biter in overtime against Georgia State, Creighton pulled away as the final minutes waned.

It didn’t start that way, and for much of the game, the Cajuns were in it.

At the game’s 2:30 p.m. beginning, conversation was delivered in a moderate, hopeful tone at Pour, an upscale wine bar in River Ranch.

“I think we have a chance to do it,” said Sharon Moss, an automobile dealer who settled in with friends to watch the game.

“There’s been a lot of upsets” so far in the tournament, she said. “I have a lot of faith in (UL-Lafayette) coach Bob Marlin.”

Later, with 9:46 to play in the first half and the Cajuns down by five, some of the red-wearing clientele at Legends Bar on Bertrand Drive tried to coax Ragin’ Cajuns shots in the net with body English.

“Aw, he missed it,” came a shout from the back of the bar.

One fan, Jason Broussard, said he was catching his first 2013-14 Ragin’ Cajuns basketball game.

Outside, Scott Landry and Danny Carroll watched the game and sized up the Cajuns’ chances at winning against the favored Creighton.

“They (the Cajuns) have to stay out of foul trouble and make their free throws,” Carroll said.

Landry and Carroll watched as Creighton, led by senior Doug McDermott, pounded it out against the Cajuns.

“I think they’re holding their own against this team,” Landry said.

The Cajuns held McDermott in check for large segments of the game. But McDermott, a player considered to be the best in college basketball this year, was just too much, scoring 30 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

The Cajuns were led by Elfrid Payton, who scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

As time was winding down and the Cajuns started fouling Creighton players to stop the clock, some fans at Marley’s started filing out.

“They were in it till the end,” Reon said as the game clock ticked to zero.