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Women’s Basketball: Cajuns lose to Middle Tennessee, 77-67

Lafayette- Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns gave a valiant effort against No. 16 Middle Tennessee in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship, but in the end Chrissy Given proved to be too much, as the Blue Raiders captured their fourth straight tournament title 77-67.

MT (29-3) had won their other two tournament games by an average margin of 26.5 points.

UL (25-8) finishes as runner-up for the second time in the last three seasons.

Givens, tournament outstanding player, led all scorers with 33 points.  Yolanda Jones led the Cajuns with her 20th double-double of the season, totaling 19 points and 13 rebounds.

The Cajuns shot 53.1 percent and won the rebounding battle 33-29, but committed 24 turnovers which resulted in 28 points for the Blue Raiders.

Trailing by 10 points at the half, the Cajuns cut the MT lead to six points twice in the opening minutes of the second half.  Trailing by six points, the Cajuns missed lay-ups on back-to-back possessions and then Givens buried a triple to move the MT lead back to 10 points, 47-37, at 14:36.

The Blue Raiders built a 15-point lead, 61-46, on back-to-back triples by Amber Holt and Johnna Abney.

A three-point play by Courtney Ratliff and an offensive put-back by Sonora Edwards quickly got the Cajuns back within 10 points, 61-51, with 8:51 to play.  Onna Charles followed with a triple from the corner at 7:48 and the MT lead was down to seven points.

Two more baskets by Givens around a lay-up by Jones saw the Cajuns deficit at nine points, 65-56, with 6:00 remaining.

A costly turnover at 5:15 resulted in a three pointer by Holt and a 12-point MT lead with only 4:55 remaining.
No matter what the Cajuns did, MT had an answer.

Holt and Abney combined for 32 points.

Three other Cajuns scored in double figures, including Alicia McDaniel with 13 points, Jeanenne Colbert with 11 points and Edwards with 10 points.

The Cajuns committed 16 turnovers in the first half en route to a 10-point deficit at the break.

The Cajuns fought early, trailing 18-17 at the 10:59 mark.  From there, the Blue Raiders forced seven turnovers in the next three minutes and took a 27-17 lead at 7:48.

UL hustled back, using a 10-2 run to claw back within four points, 33-29, with 2:59 remaining.  The Cajuns used baskets by McDaniel and Charles and two free throws apiece from McDaniel, Colbert and Jones.

Givens scored the last three baskets of the half, helping the Blue Raiders take a 39-29 lead at the break.