Nov 25, 2012 12:41 AM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE, La. - Sophomore Byronesha Santiago registered another double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome costly turnovers as the Ragin' Cajuns fell in their Sun Belt Conference season opener, 72-45 to Middle Tennessee.
Kia Wilridge led the Ragin' Cajuns in scoring with 14 points to go along with seven rebounds and three steals. Santiago connected on four of her ten attempts as Louisiana, now 2-3 on the young season, shot 32.7-percent from the field as a team, going 17-for-52. Robbie Brown contributed 10 points, all of which came in the first half.
"I thought we played extremely hard and that's what our goal was," said head coach Garry Brodhead. "We were trying to outplay them and get the 50/50 balls and I thought we got most of them but once we got them, we had way too many turnovers. A team like Middle Tennessee will constantly make you play out of your rhythm and offense, once we get more experience dealing with that, we will be just fine."
Despite being significantly smaller than the opposition, Louisiana outrebounded Middle Tennessee (4-1), 43-36.
The Ragin' Cajuns never led in the contest after Middle Tennessee won the opening tip and put in the first bucket of the game on a layup by Elie Icelyn. Louisiana scored their first basket of the game at the 18:33 off a layup by Sylvana Okde to pull within two, 4-2. However, Middle Tennessee's swarming defense caused costly turnovers as the Blue Raiders went on a 22-2 run over the next seven minutes.
The run projected the Blue Raiders to the forefront as they held a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game. The Cajuns used a 10-0 run of their own to pull within twelve, 32-20 with 3:35 left in the first half. However, the Blue Raiders scored six points to end the half and headed into the locker room holding a 41-22 advantage.
Middle Tennessee came out firing in the second half as Icelyn scored the first jumper, extending the lead to 21 points. The Ragin' Cajuns were unable to stop the powerful Blue Raiders, who knocked down a three-point basket with 42 seconds remaining to build their largest lead of 27 points. Four Middle Tennessee players turned in double-digit efforts and were led by Ebony Rowe who registered 21 points and eight rebounds.
The Ragin' Cajuns return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 28, hosting Southern-New Orleans in a 7 p.m. contest at Earl K. Long Gym.