ASHEVILLE, N.C, (WJHL) – Despite a heroic second-half effort from Jalen Haynes and the ETSU offense, Louisiana defeated the Bucs in the Asheville Championship finale, 81-77.

Haynes, the Virginia Tech transfer, scored a game-high 23 points (9-9 FT) and added seven rebounds.

The Ragin’ Cajuns opened the game on a 7-2 run and never once trailed in the first half. They took their largest lead of the opening period, 42-28, with a Joe Charles three-pointer.

The Blue and Gold chipped away early in the half, as a Haynes layup with 16:03 left to play cut the visitors’ lead to just four points. The second of two Jaden Seymour free throws drew the Bucs back even, 55-55, with 11:01 remaining.

Quickly, however, Louisiana worked the advantage back up to ten points, but ETSU never went away.

DeAnthony Tipler buried a triple just inside of a minute to play to pull the Bucs to within 79-77. After a miss on the other end by Louisiana, the Bucs called a timeout to draw up the potentially game-winning possession.

With time winding down, Jalen Haynes drove to the basket looking for contact and another trip to the free-throw line, but no foul was called. The Ragin’ Cajuns hit a pair from the charity stripe to seal the four-point win.

Four of Louisiana’s five starters finished in double-figures, including Jordan Brown (14 pts), who fouled out of the contest.

ETSU received contributions from Jordan King, who tallied 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. Josh Taylor notched a double-double in the loss, as well, with 13 points and ten rebounds.

The Bucs (2-1) will return home to Freedom Hall on Thursday, as they play host to Arkansas-Little Rock at 7 p.m.