TROY, Ala. (AP) Frank Bartley scored 22 points, Marcus Stroman made four free throws in the last 28 seconds and Louisiana held off Troy 81-76 Thursday night to claim its first Sun Belt Conference championship in 18 years.
The Ragin Cajuns (24-4, 14-1) pulled down 46 rebounds, including 35 off the defensive glass, while Troy grabbed 30 rebounds all told and the disparity helped Louisiana survive Troy's 53-percent shooting from long range. The Trojans made 13 of 28 from distance but were outscored 40-20 in the paint, 17-6 on second-chance points and 11-6 on the fast break.
The Trojans (13-15, 7-8) came within two points three times in the last 95 seconds. Jordan Varnado scored on a drive to pull Troy as close as 72-70 with 1:35 remaining, but he missed a free throw that would have turned the bucket into a three-point play. Wesley Person scored two from the line to pull Troy to 74-72 but Bryce Washington answered with a drive and, after another Varnado bucket made it 76-74 with 36 seconds left, Strohman closed things out from the foul line.
Louisiana last won the Sun Belt in the 1999-00 season. The victory was also coach Bob Marlin's 500th.