Posted: Nov 9, 2012 11:33 PM by UL Sports Information
Baton Rouge, La. - Freshman Kia Wilridge's buzzer beating layup as time expired lifted the Ragin' Cajuns over Southern Friday night in Baton Rouge. Louisiana (1-0) and Southern (1-1) battled back-and-forth in a game that saw six lead changes and the score tied six times.
Louisiana gained momentum in the last three minutes of the game, emerging with a 71-69 victory to open the 2012-13 season. Four Ragin' Cajuns reached double figures, led by junior Ashley Benjamin who scored 19 points, 13 of which came in the second half.
"It was an exciting win. The team played hard and gave a lot of effort, which is what we talk about every day in practice," head coach Garry Brodhead said. "It was fun to watch once we started pressing towards the end and bringing more energy. We made some mistakes but we fought through them. Hopefully this game will give us momentum for our first home game on Monday."
The two teams went back-and-forth in the first half with two ties and four lead changes. Neither team lead by more than four points and it seemed every time the Cajuns would sneak ahead, the Jaguars had an answer. Southern took their first lead at the eight minute mark, gaining a one-point edge however the Cajuns outscored the Jaguars 12-10 and went into the locker room holding onto a 32-29 advantage.
UL finally broke the trend in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring 9 of the game's next 15 points to build a six-point lead. Southern came clawing back however and went on a 13-4 run of their own to seize the upper hand for the first time and pulling ahead, 48-45.
The Cajuns mustered a six-point lead, thanks to two quick steals by Wilridge and three straight layups with 2:56 remaining in the contest. With the Cajuns looking like they might pull away, the Jaguars scored a couple of quick baskets and tied the game with a pair of free throws with 39 seconds remaining on the clock.
Despite getting two great looks under the basket, the Cajuns were unable to connect on their possession before the shot clock expired. With six seconds remaining, Southern attempted a three point shot, which was blocked and tipped into the hands of Wildridge. The freshman then took the ball the length of the floor and scored a layup as time expired, lifting the Cajuns to a 71-69 victory.
Benjamin lead all scorers with 19 points and five boards. Keke Veal and Byronesha Santiago chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds apiece. Syvana Okde also reached double digits, recording 11 points in her team-high 34 minutes played.
The Ragin' Cajuns return to action on Monday, Nov. 12, when they host LSU-Shreveport in a 7 p.m. contest at Earl K. Long Gym.