LAFAYETTE – The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Basketball fended off several advances from Arkansas State in the second half and held on for a 49-48 overtime win over the Red Wolves on Saturday, January 21 at the Cajundome.
With a 14-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters the Ragin’ Cajuns (11-9, 5-3 SBC) were able to grab hold of the lead and never trailed the rest of the game. The Red Wolves (6-13, 1-7 SBC), though, wouldn’t make it easy for Louisiana to obtain the final outcome.
Nubia Benedith, who scored a game-high 13 points, continued adding to Louisiana’s 25-18 halftime lead that was attained after Sherry Porter’s buzzer-beating triple by knocking down a jumper at 8:58 and a free throw at 7:58 to stretch the lead to double figures early in the third quarter.
ASU countered with an 8-0 over the next three minutes to trim UL’s lead to 28-26 at 4:36. That’s when Porter triggered a Ragin’ Cajuns response with a hard-earned basket at 3:34 to protect the lead and start an 8-2 run that increased the advantage to 36-28 prior to the end of the quarter.
Tamera Johnson drove to the basket to start the fourth quarter with layup at 9:46, collecting the last of her 10 points and giving Louisiana a 38-30 edge. The Red Wolves would rally once again, scoring on three consecutive possessions and the Cajuns lead dwindled to 38-36 with 7:32 remaining.
Timely baskets from Porter and Benedith inside of four minutes left in regulation allowed Louisiana to fight off a pair of ties, then the lead moved up to a two-possession advantage after Destiny Rice collected a steal that led to a layup on the fastbreak at 1:41 for a 46-42 lead.
ASU wouldn’t back down as the visitors came back within another push in the final minute, knocking down a pair of jumpers with the last one coming with 0:09 showing and evening the score at 46-all. Rice’s look on the final possession of regulation was off the mark resulting in the extra period.
After an early defensive tussle to start the overtime session, it was the Benedith collecting a steal and Porter coming through with the second-chance bucket to complete the fastbreak opportunity and provide Louisiana with a 48-46 lead.
The Ragin’ Cajuns got a critical free throw make from Caira Wren at the 2:06 mark to stretch the lead to three points and kept the Red Wolves off the board until there were just 50 seconds remaining.
Louisiana worked the shot clock on its last touch and left ASU with only 23 seconds for their final touch. The Ragin’ Cajuns defense swarmed the Red Wolves leading to a forced three-point attempt that was off the mark.
The win, which gave Louisiana its first 2-0 week in Sun Belt play this season, was accomplished with the squad shorthanded as leading scorer Lanay Wheaton (11.3 ppg) was held out for precautionary measures.
The Ragin’ Cajuns moved a season-best two games above .500 both overall and in SBC play and added with Texas State’s loss entered into a four-way tie for fourth place in the conference standings.
It was the Ragin’ Cajuns seventh straight series win over Arkansas State – a streak that dates back to the 2019-20 season. The two teams are set for a rematch in Jonesboro, Arkansas in four weeks on Saturday, February 18.
LEADING THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
Benedith led the way with six field goal makes and turned in her Sun Belt-play high for points (13).
Johnson added a game-high 12 rebounds to her stat line as she recorded her fourth double-double of the season and the first in SBC action. She had a key block in the final minute of the third quarter that led the Cajuns stretching the lead out and prevented the Red Wolves from getting off a second shot on the final possession of overtime.
Porter supplied nine points off the bench, none more important than the three-pointer at the end of the first half. She also had three offensive rebounds, a pair of assists and a steal.
Alicia Blanton started in place of Wheaton and contributed eight points in her SBC-play high of 26 minutes. She was a perfect 4-of-4 at the free throw line which included two key makes in the fourth quarter.
UP NEXT FOR LOUISIANA
The Ragin' Cajuns wrap up play in the month of January with their first venture out to the eastern region of the Sun Belt Conference, visiting Georgia Southern and App State from January 26-28.
Louisiana will be in Statesboro, Georgia on Thursday (Jan. 26) to face the Eagles at 5:00 p.m. (CST) from Hanner Fieldhouse and concludes the trip on Saturday (Jan. 28) in Boone, North Carolina with a 1:00 p.m. (CST) matinee against the Mountaineers at the Holmes Convocation Center.
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