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Women’s Basketball: Cajuns go out winners

Close win over UALR highlights Senior Day.

Bruce Brown

If Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajun women didn’t get busy, they faced a rough road at the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournament.
Coach J. Kelley Hall’s squad trailed visiting Arkansas-Little Rock 49-42 on a Laura Throesch jumper with 6:51 remaining in Saturday’s season finale at Earl K. Long Gym.

If that kept up, the Cajuns would have slid all the way to the No. 4 seed from the West Division and a first-round game on Thursday.

But UL refused to lose, as the Cajuns held the Trojans scoreless for 4:04 and went on a defense-fueled 11-0 run to grab a 53-49 lead. UALR forged a tie at 53 apiece, but Sonora Edwards’ two free throws with 35 seconds remaining gave Louisiana a hard-earned 55-53 triumph.
“Time was running out,” said point guard Ashley Blanche, who played her final UL home game with fellow senior Sherita Anderson. “We told ourselves the time is now, and we started to pick it up on defense

“We knew they had good 3-point shooters, and we did a good job on them in that stretch. Defense was the only way. We got a couple of steals and made some easy baskets. We converted on the offensive end.”

The victory moved the Cajuns to 18-9 on the year and 8-7 in Sun Belt play. They will be the No. 3 seed from the West next weekend at Middle Tennessee.

“I’m proud of our kids to finish up like they did,” Hall said. “To finish 18-9 after all the adversity we’ve been through says a lot. I know we were lucky in the end, but this team deserves to have something good happen to them.”

Edwards was a key figure in the victory. She had back-to-back layups at 5:52 and 5:30 and added a free throw to draw UL within 49-48. Jeanenne Colbert’s free throw tied it at 4:27, and she made two more for a 51-49 lead 28 seconds later.

Blanche drove the lane for the bucket that made it 53-49.

“We made some substitutions to get more defensive pressure,” Hall said. “Then we kind of turned them loose. When we called timeout at 3:59, we told them all the (other) scores were in and that we could either finish tied for second or fourth, so they knew they were playing for something.

“I don’t know how many times this year we’ve shot 35 percent or worse and won. That’s the mark of a good defense, and we’re No. 1 in the league in that. We give ourselves a chance.”

“The defense just came into play,” said Edwards, whose 13 points led the Cajuns. “We were doing it with our defense.”

Edwards (13 points, 7 rebounds) and Anderson (4 points, 6 rebounds) produced inside after a subpar night in Thursday’s loss to Arkansas State.

“Coach challenged us to go down and post up,” Edwards said.

“Sonora finally came up big for us,” Hall said. “She and Sherita played well.”

Baskets from Jocelyn Love and Renee Renz tied it at 53 with 2:05 to go, but Love missed the front end of a bonus at 1:22. After Edwards’ free throws, Love missed at 11 seconds and Renz’s foot was on the line on the rebound.

Blanche stepped to the line with a chance to clinch it at :05.9, but missed both. Andrea Keys got the rebound for UALR (13-14, 5-9), but it was slapped away to seal the uplifting win.

“I almost gave it away,” Blanche said, “but I’ll take a win any time.”

Especially in the home finale.


Louisiana 55, Arkansas-Little Rock 53


Andrea Keys 4-5 1-2 9, Renee Renz 6-20 1-4 13, Heather Morris 3-7 0-0 7, Jessica Brown 1-3 2-2 5, Jocelyn Love 4-18 1-3 10, Laura Throesch 3-4 0-0 6, Rachel Smith 1-1 0-0 3. TOTALS 22-58 5-11.

LOUISIANA (18-9, 8-7)

Sonora Edwards 4-9 5-7 13, Sherita Anderson 2-5 0-0 4, Ashley Blanche 3-5 3-7 10, Onna Charles 3-9 1-2 9, Jeanenne Colbert 2-12 5-6 9, Whitney Dunlap 0-0 0-0 0, Alicia McDaniel 0-3 0-0 0, Yolanda Jones 5-16 0-2 10. TOTALS 19-59 14-24.

Halftime Score: UALR 30, UL 26. 3 pt. FG: UALR 4-11 (Smith 1-1, Brown 1-1, Morris 1-3, Love 1-6), UL 3-15 (Charles 2-5, Blanche 1-2, Edwards 0-2, McDaniel 0-2, Colbert 0-4). Rebounds: UALR 43 (Keys 10, Renz 10), UL 42 (Jones 10, Edwards 7, Anderson 6, Blanche 5, McDaniel 5, Charles 4, Dunlap 2, Team 3). Personal Fouls: UALR 16, UL 13. Fouled Out: None. Technical Fouls: None. Assists: UALR 17 (Morris 7), UL 6 (Blanche 2, McDaniel 2, Edwards 1, Colbert 1). Turnovers: UALR 14, UL 10, Steals: UALR 2 (Keys 1, Love 1), UL 2 (Colbert). Blocked Shots: UALR 5 (Renz 4), UL 3 (Jones 3). Attendance: 305.

Originally published February 26, 2006