LAFAYETTE – Louisiana got its offense going early and took a lead it would not relinquish as the Ragin’ Cajuns picked up their third-straight win in a Sun Belt home opener with a 73-68 victory over South Alabama in the Cajundome.
Thursday’s win marked the team’s first home triumph against South Alabama since a 62-38 decision on Feb. 9, 2017, and improved the Ragin’ Cajuns to 5-1 in the Cajundome this season, its best record at home through six games since posting the same mark during the 2016-17 campaign.
Junior Skyler Goodwin led the way with a season-high 17 points in the victory, including a perfect 7-for-7 mark from the charity stripe. She was joined in double figures by Kimberly Burton, who found herself in double figures for the fourth time in the last five games after matching a career mark with 12 points.
Newcomer Alexandria Goodly and Brandi Williams provided a nice offensive spark with nine points each, while Jomyra Mathis contributed eight points, four of which came in the final quarter. Despite only scoring seven points, Ty’Reona Doucet made her presence felt on the glass, bringing down 18 of the team’s 41 rebounds.
The Ragin’ Cajuns once again relied on their defense, which forced the Jaguars to turn the ball over 17 times, scoring 21 points as a result. Louisiana also finished the night with seven steals and three blocks, two of which came from Andrea Cournoyer, a new career high.
Another key component to the victory was Louisiana’s depth on the bench, which outscored South Alabama’s reserves, 25-3, in the contest.
It was all Louisiana early on, which opened the contest on a 7-0 run behind buckets from Doucet, Williams and Burton. After South Alabama cut the deficit to 7-6, Louisiana closed the half on a 14-4 run to lead 21-10 after 10 minutes.
The double-digit advantage did not last long as South Alabama scored 12 points and held Louisiana to only four over a 5:51 stretch to start the second quarter, cutting the lead to 25-22 at the media timeout. The lead remained intact despite only scoring 10 points in the quarter with the help of four points from Burton in the remaining.
Both team’s traded buckets throughout the third stanza with Louisiana’s lead remaining in singles figures before Goodly drained a 3-pointer at the 3:37 mark to push the team ahead, 48-36. South Alabama responded in a big way, hitting two triples in its final three possessions to trail 53-47 heading into the last quarter.
The Jaguars used that momentum to make a big push over the opening 3:49 of the fourth period, pulling within 55-54 after Savannah Jones converted a layup. However, a 6-0 run powered by four points from Goodly pushed the lead back out to 61-54.
South Alabama (6-9, 1-2 SBC) made one final push in the contest when two made free throws from Shaforia Kinds cut the lead to 61-58 with 3:07 to play in the game, but made 10 free throws by the Ragin’ Cajuns in the remaining time was enough to hold off the Jaguars and preserve the hard-earned, 73-68 victory.
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