Women's Basketball: Cajuns Hold Off Red Wolves For First Conference Win
JONESBORO, Ark. – Clutch free throw shooting and a career high 25 points from senior Nekia Jones helped the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns women's basketball hold off a second half surge from the Arkansas State Red Wolves to win their first Sun Belt Conference game of the season, 77-75, here at the First National Bank Arena.
The win improves the Cajuns record to 6-8 (1-1 SBC) and it's the Cajuns second straight season where they got their first conference win of the season in Jonesboro, while the loss drops the Red Wolves record to 6-7 (1-1 SBC).
Seniors Simone Fields and Troi Swain poured in 14 and 12 points respectively, while sophomore Malachi-Seraphin Williams added 10 points to give the Cajuns four players in double-figures. Jones shot 8-13 from the field (5-6 from three-point range) while Fields was a solid 6-9 from the field as the Cajuns shot 47 percent from the field in the game.
HOW IT HAPPENED (First Quarter): Jones set the tone early for the Cajuns ending the Red Wolves first possession of the game with a steal and a quick transition basket to give the Cajuns the lead right off the bat.
Jones then proceeded to set the building on fire, going 4-4 from beyond the arc in the period scoring 14 points, which accounted for over half of the Cajuns points in the first quarter. Defensively the Cajuns were strong holding Arkansas State to 44 percent shooting, and only 17 percent from the beyond the arc as they took a five-point lead into the second period, with the score sitting at 22-17 in favor of Louisiana.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Second Quarter): One key to the Cajuns success in the first period, and they continued it through the second quarter, was their ball movement. They had 10 assists at the end of the second quarter, and that directly contributed to them extending their lead into double-digits.
Swain's three-point basket (6:29) kick-started a stretch midway through the quarter that saw the Cajuns hitting two three pointers and a layup that all had assists. Freshman Skyler Goodwin assisted Swain's three-point basket, sophomore Kimberly Burton assisted Seraphin-Williams' three-points and Swain assisted a Goodwin basket all in a one minute stretch.
Not to be outdone Jones added another three-point basket and Swain joined the downtown adventure for the Cajuns, as they stretched their lead to 10 points down the stretch of the first half to head into the locker room with the score sitting at 45-35 in Louisiana's favor.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Third Quarter): Arkansas State came out of the locker room on fire, starting the quarter on an 8-2 run to cut deeply into the Cajuns lead. But Louisiana stayed strong and never let the Red Wolves get any closer than two points in the period.
The Cajuns were helped with a strong presence at the free throw line, going 8-8 at the line through the quarter to maintain their lead. They went 6-6 from the line during the final three minutes of the quarter, and a layup from Jones assisted by Fields at the 2:46 mark of the quarter helped Louisiana hold off the strong surge from the Red Wolves holding onto their four-point lead with the score sitting at 59-55 entering the final quarter.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Fourth Quarter): Arkansas State came out and hit a three-pointer to start the quarter to pull within one point of the Cajuns. But a quick response from the Cajuns kept them up by four points. But at the 6:31 mark of the quarter, the Red Wolves tied the game at 64-64, and a jump shot from Arkansas State put them up for the first time in the game.
For the next three minutes the Red Wolves held onto their small lead but the Cajuns never let them pull away. Powered by Fields' strong play down the stretch, including a layup at the 1:11 mark of the quarter with the score sitting at 71-70 in favor of the Cajuns, Louisiana wrestled back the lead they had all game long.
Fields scored six points down the stretch and grabbed three rebounds in the final five minutes of the game, and along with the Cajuns solid free throw shooting, helped the Cajuns fight off any late attempts by the Red Wolves to steal away their win and when the final whistle blew the Cajuns came away with their first conference win of the season with the final score sitting at 77-75.
NOTEWORTHY: Jones' 25 points was a career high and her five made three-pointers and eight shots from the field are both career highs; Swain's 12 points is a season high. Louisiana's eight three-pointers made ties a season high and the 50 percent is a season high and it's the first time the Cajuns have shot at least 50 percent from beyond the arc (at least 10 attempts) since Jan. 19, 2017 against UT-Arlington; The 17 assists are a season high; The Cajuns shot 82 percent from the line and it's the second time this season they've done that after attempting at least 20 free throws.
UP NEXT FOR THE CAJUNS: The Cajuns return to the court on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018 as they host the Appalachian State Mountaineers in their first game of the new year. The game against App State is the first of three conference home games for the Cajuns.
They'll finish the weekend up playing the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers on Saturday, Jan. 6 and they'll wrap up the three-game home stand with a matchup against in-state rivals, the ULM Warhawks, on Saturday, Jan. 13.
FOLLOWING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS: Follow the Cajuns on twitter @RaginCajunsWBB for links to recaps and updates during the game. There will also be links to ways to follow all the action the Cajuns are in for the rest of the season.
Women's Basketball Reunion Set For January 27th
Dear Ragin’ Cajuns!
On behalf of the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Department, Bryan Maggard-Director of Athletics, and Coach Gary Brodhead, we would like to invited you and your family to participate in of our 2018 Women’s Basketball Reunion.
On Saturday,January 27thour team will be playing Troy and we would love to host you and your family for the game and present you and your teammates at half time.
This invitation includes the support groups, such as former coaches, athletic trainers, managers, etc. - please help spread the word about this event and please RSVP whether or not you plan to attend.
Schedule of Events:
*Time TBD* Tour the new Student-Athlete Performance Center
*Time TBD* Shoot around practice and meet the team.
The Men’s Team will play prior to the women and your ticket will give you access to both games.