JONESBORO, Ark. – Despite Louisiana Women’s Basketball (2-10, 0-1 SBC) cutting the Arkansas State Red Wolves’ (6-6, 1-0 SBC) lead to four points with two minutes left, and freshmen guards Andrea Cournoyer (21 points) and Brandi Williams (25 points) finishing with career highs in scoring, the Ragin’ Cajuns fell short of winning its Sun Belt Conference opener, losing 87-75 Thursday night at the First National Bank Arena.
Louisiana was done-in by an 8-0 run by Arkansas State which started with just under two minutes to go, which was in response to Louisiana’s own 6-0 run to cut things to 79-75 at the 2:09 mark. In the game Cournoyer was hot from beyond the arc, finishing 4-for-9 from downtown (7-for-17 from the field) on her way to a career-high in scoring, while Williams was 8-for-12 from the field (9-for-11 from the free throw line) to power her to a career-high and team-high in scoring.
HOW IT HAPPENED (First Half): The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair, with Louisiana coming out fast and taking a four-point lead over the first five minutes of the quarter. Louisiana was led by a collection of Ragin’ Cajuns, but the fast start was capped off by Cournoyer’s first three-point basket of the game at the 5:28 mark to put Louisiana up 10-6.
But Arkansas State responded with a 9-0 run, started by Jireh Washington’s two-point basket with 4:21 to go in the quarter and the Red Wolves pushed the lead to a quarter-high five points. Both teams traded points down the stretch, with the Red Wolves’ coming away with a three-point lead, 19-16, heading into the second quarter.
A 7-0 run by Arkansas State to start the second quarter pushed the score to 32-25 and gave the Red Wolves a seven-point lead with 4:34 to go in the half. Louisiana chipped slightly into that lead, with Cournoyer scoring Louisiana’s last three baskets of the quarter, capped off by a steal by sophomore guard Skyler Goodwin, which was quickly sent along to Cournoyer who hit the fast break layup to make it 38-35 with 1:14 to go in the quarter.
But a three-point basket from Arkansas State’s Starr Taylor with 14 seconds remaining put the score at 41-35 and gave the Red Wolves a six-point lead heading into halftime.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Second Half): Arkansas State pushed its lead to eight points twice over the first six minutes of the second half, but Louisiana would not let Arkansas State push the lead into double digits cutting into the lead every time the Red Wolves hit the eight-point advantage. During the quarter both Williams and Cournoyer scored nine points, with Cournoyer shooting 2-for-3 throughout the quarter and Williams going 3-for-4 from the line.
Free throws made by Arkansas State’s Peyton Martin, with 36 seconds left in the quarter, were answered by Williams’ two-point basket with eight seconds left to put the score at 63-57 with Arkansas State heading into the final quarter with a six-point lead.
Three times during the fourth quarter, Arkansas State pushed its lead to 10 points and attempted to put away Louisiana. But the Ragin’ Cajuns dug deep through the middle portion of the quarter and with 3:31 left in the game, and the score sitting at 79-69, Louisiana went on a 6-0 run to cut deeply into the Red Wolves’ lead.
Sophomore center Ty’Reona Doucet sparked the run with a layup and Williams hit back-to-back spinning layups to get the score to 79-75. But Arkansas State responded with an 8-0 run to finish the game and the Red Wolves’ final run was enough to come away with an 87-75 win.
GAME NOTES: Williams’ finished with a career-high 25 points hitting a career-high eight shots and nine free-throws in the process; Cournoyer scored a career-high 21 points hitting a career-high four shots from beyond the arc; The four three-pointers made was a Louisiana season-high by an individual player.
UP NEXT FOR THE CAJUNS: Louisiana continues its Sun Belt Conference opening weekend by concluding the Arkansas swing with a Saturday, Jan. 5, matchup at Little Rock with tip scheduled for 3 p.m. The game will be streamed via Little Rock All-Access and broadcast on ESPN1420 with Steve Peloquin on the call.
TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE: Both season tickets and individual game tickets for Louisiana Women’s Basketball are available for purchase by either heading to ragincajuns.com/tickets or by calling the Louisiana Athletics Ticket Office at the CAJUNDOME, (337) 265-2357, or by visiting the office in person.
FOLLOWING THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS: Follow the Ragin’ Cajuns on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@RaginCajunsWBB) to stay up-to-date with Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Basketball.