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Women's Basketball: Ragin' Cajuns Strong Bench Helps To Beat Niagara

LAS VEGAS – Thanks to 42 points from their bench and a near perfect stretch at the free throw line in the last three minutes of the game, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns women's basketball team outlasted the Niagara Purple Eagles, 68-52, to win their first game at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout here in Las Vegas at the South Point Arena.
           
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Cajuns, and it improves their record to 2-3.  It's also the first win, in the first ever meeting between the two schools, for Louisiana against Niagara.  The loss drops the Purple Eagles to 0-5.
           
Offensively the Cajuns had three score in double digits, seniors Nekia Jones (13 points) Kendra Howard (12 points) along with freshman Skyler Goodwin (11 points), who returned from injury to come off the bench in the game, all finished above the 10-point mark.
           
But it was on the boards where the Cajuns excelled out rebounding the Purple Eagles 44-34 and they were led by senior Simone Fields (six rebounds), Jones (six rebounds) and sophomore Kimberly Burton (six rebounds) to help the Cajuns dominate the glass.
           
Defensively they were strong as well, holding Niagara to 32 percent shooting from the field and they kept the Purple Eagles to under 10 percent from beyond the arc (nine percent) to make sure the Purple Eagles never got on a significant run through the game.

HOW IT HAPPENED (First Quarter): The Purple Eagles jumped out to a 4-0 lead early, but redshirt freshman Danyale Bayonne settled the Cajuns down with two quick baskets, she nailed a jumper at the 7:56 mark to make it 4-2 Niagara.  Bayonne then followed that up with a three-point shot just about a minute later (6:41) to make it 6-5 Niagara and with those baskets Louisiana settled into their game.
           
The Purple Eagles attempted to pull ahead in the quarter, but any run they made was stifled by the Cajuns ability to get rebounds and make shots.  Louisiana's defense was strong as well, not giving Niagara any easy shots, holding the Purple Eagles to 39 percent shooting in the quarter.
           
At the 1:44 mark in the quarter the Purple Eagles held a six-point lead.  But the Cajuns were poised to respond and with a three-point shot from Howard along with a rebound that Howard put back, the Cajuns finished the quarter on a 5-0 run, putting the score at 13-12 in favor of Niagara.

HOW IT HAPPENED (Second Quarter): The Cajuns carried their 5-0 run into the second quarter making it a 7-0 run before it came to an end.  A quick 3-0 run from the Purple Eagles gave them a two-point lead but a layup from sophomore Malachi-Seraphin Williams tied it up at 16-16.
           
Following the Seraphin-Williams basket, she made a free throw to put the Cajuns up by one, and they never gave that lead away for the remainder of the game.  Continuing her strong quarter Seraphin-Williams nailed a layup to put the score at 19-16 and the Cajuns were off and running.
           
As the quarter reached its conclusion the Purple Eagles got within two points, putting the score at 28-26.  But Fields, made sure the Cajuns had a strong finish to the half.  She snagged a defensive rebound at the 1:15 mark and in the Cajuns next possession, Fields nailed a layup to put the Cajuns up four with the score at 30-26 with the teams heading to the locker room.

HOW IT HAPPENED (Third Quarter): Halfway through the third quarter the Cajuns lead had been cut three points, but Howard stepped up for the Cajuns.
           
In back-to-back defensive possessions she took a charge, and after the second change of possession Goodwin drove the basket and hit a layup after getting fouled.  She drained the layup and the Cajuns went up 35-29 at the six-minute mark of the quarter.
           
Once again, the Purple Eagles chipped away at Louisiana's lead.  But a technical foul against Niagara's Jamie Sherburne allowed Goodwin to give the Cajuns a five-point lead by sinking three free throws to put the score at 40-35.
           
Although from there the momentum seemed to have switched the Cajuns way, Niagara wouldn't go away and at the 3:35 mark they got within one point.  It would be the closest they got to the Cajuns for the rest of the game.
           
As the quarter drew to an end the Cajuns went on a 8-1 run, finished off with a layup from Burton to put the score at 51-42 when the third quarter came to an end.

HOW IT HAPPENED (Fourth Quarter): A three-pointer from Jones at the 4:05 mark put the Cajuns up by nine (57-48) but Niagara attempted one last comeback following that.  They scored back-to-back baskets and at the 3:15 mark it was 57-52.  But the Purple Eagles wouldn't score another point.
           
Down the stretch, Louisiana out rebounded the Purple Eagles 6-1 and they went 11-12 at the charity stripe to close out the game.  Jones was lights out from the line going 7 for 8, with four rebounds and one steal to help Louisiana close out the game and come away with the win 68-52.]

UP NEXT FOR THE RAGIN' CAJUNS:  The Cajuns return to the court on Sunday Nov. 26 when they face off against the Cleveland State Vikings here starting at 3:15 CST in the second game of the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout at the South Point Arena. 

FOLLOWING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS: Follow the Cajuns on twitter @RaginCajunsWBB for updates during the game and links to game recaps.
 

#GEAUXCAJUNS



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