BOONE, N.C – The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Basketball weathered an early three-point attack and delivered lockdown defensive efforts at the end of each half in capturing a 65-51 win over App State on Saturday, January 28 at the Holmes Convocation Center in Boone, North Carolina.
Pacing the fourth straight win for Louisiana (13-9, 7-3 SBC) was the season-high 22 points contributed by Tamera Johnson. She started off with eight points alone in the first quarter to help the Ragin’ Cajuns keep pace with the Mountaineers (8-13, 4-6 SBC) who drained five 3-pointers and held a 19-17 lead after one period of play.
The Ragin’ Cajuns first increase in intensity of defense showed up in the back half of the second quarter, holding App State scoreless the final 4:42 which resulted in the hosts’ 29-24 lead disappearing.
Louisiana overtook the Mountaineers during the initial stranglehold ending the first half with a 10-0 scoring run. A quick five-point spurt from Nubia Benedith starting at 4:01 evened the score and the lead was attained at 3:05 when Jaylyn James scored off an inbounds pass pulling UL ahead 31-29. Just before the break Johnson capped off a 13-point half with a corner-pocket trey at 1:05 that extended the edge to five points.
James kept the Ragin’ Cajuns on track in the third quarter with two timely 3-point makes. The first returned the lead to the visitors at 38-36 at the 5:34 mark and the second coming at 2:42 to cap off an 8-0 surge that increased the lead to 43-36.
The Mountaineers went back to their three-point recipe early in the fourth quarter with a pair of makes in the first two-plus minutes that positioned them for a brief lead after Faith Alston scored a layup off a Cajuns turnover at 7:13 for a 49-48 lead.
Alston’s make would be the last field goal that Louisiana’s defense would allow App State to record the rest of the game. Destiny Rice took charge on the ensuing possession, faking out the defender and going to the hoop for the go-ahead score with 6:44 left to play.
What followed were the two clutch plays that locked up the Ragin’ Cajuns second consecutive 2-0 week in Sun Belt play: Benedith beating the shot with a runner in the lane at 5:09 to extend the gap and Johnson moving the margin to two-possession territory with a steal that led to a layup at 4:14 upping the lead to 54-49.
Out of the final media timeout Johnson would place the exclamation point on her dominant performance, taking advantage out of an out-of-position Mountaineers defender to draw the blocking foul and convert a three-point play at 2:59 that stretched the advantage to 57-49.
With the defense continuing to swarm and deny the Mountaineers, the Ragin’ Cajuns finished off the triumph from the free throw line the final 2:06 beginning with a pair of makes from Rice that moved the margin into double figures.
Johnson’s first 20-point outing of the season came at the perfect time as Louisiana played the game without the services of leading scorer Lanay Wheaton (11.7). She wasn’t alone in carrying the load as five other Ragin’ Cajuns made multiple baskets.
Benedith (11) and Porter (10) joined Johnson in scoring double figures. Louisiana was able to keep pace with App State from 3-point range in large part to three triples from Johnson and two apiece from James and Porter.
The Ragin’ Cajuns success was also powered by owning the boards, holding a commanding 47-29 advantage over the Mountaineers which included a decisive 17-8 margin on the offensive glass. Johnson was the leading rebounder with eight boards while James provided a solid seven rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.
While App State did collect 10 three-pointers, the Ragin’ Cajuns defense didn’t allow much more as the hosts’ final overall shooting line was 17-of-54 (31.5%).
Louisiana won for the sixth time in the past seven outings and is assured of being either tied for first place in the SBC standings or no more than one game off the lead heading into February.
UP NEXT FOR LOUISIANA
Louisiana is back at the Cajundome to kick off play in the month of February with a brief two-game homestand. The Ragin' Cajuns are set to take on ULM on Thursday, February 2 at 5:00 p.m. and then meet Troy in a rematch on Saturday, February 4 at 2:00 p.m.
The ULM and Troy games are the first of four remaining home games for Louisiana in the 2022-23 season. The Ragin' Cajuns have won three straight in the Cajundome and are unbeaten at home since the turn of the calendar year.
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