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Women's Basketball: Cajuns Outlast GS In 3OT First Round At SBC Championships
Skyler Goodwin scored a career high 28 points as the Cajuns took down Georgia Southern in historic first round at the SBC Championships.
NEW ORLEANS – In what eventually became the first triple-overtime game in the Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Championships' history, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns women's basketball team came back from what was at one point a double-digit deficit, to outlast the Georgia Southern Eagles, 88-81, in the first round of the SBC Basketball Championships at the Lakefront Arena.
The win improves the Cajuns record to 16-15 (10-8 SBC) while the loss ends the Eagles season and drops their record to 5-25 (2-16 SBC). It's the second straight overtime game for the Cajuns and the second triple-overtime game of the season.
Sophomore Jasmine Thomas had a career high 12 assists to help power the Cajuns offense as freshman Skyler Goodwin scored a career high 28 points (10 for 16) and added nine rebounds while fellow freshman Ty'Reonne Doucet finished with a double-double (11 points and 10 rebounds). Seniors Troi Swain (17 points) and Simone Fields (12 points) rounded out the Cajuns four players who scored in double-digits.
HOW IT HAPPENED (First Quarter): Louisiana came out of the gates struggling ever so slightly, as the Eagles jumped on Louisiana to go up 7-2 with a 4-0 run at the start. But it was Goodwin who lit things up midway through the quarter as she started a five-alarm fire on the arena floor. Starting with the Cajuns first basket, at the 6:27 mark of the quarter, Goodwin would score 12 of the Cajuns 14 points in the quarter. Fields would get the lone basket for the Cajuns by a player not named Goodwin in the period.
Goodwin hit a pair of three-pointers, with a layup in-between, to be a lone wolf through the quarter to keep Louisiana with the Eagles. Louisiana stayed with the hot shooting Eagles (60 percent from beyond the arc) and a 7-3 run to finish the period kept the Cajuns within three points with the quarter ending with Georgia Southern on top 17-14.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Second Quarter): Georgia Southern came out on a 6-0 run as they attempted to take control of the game and put some space between themselves and the Cajuns. And at the six-minute mark of the quarter they had pushed their lead to a game high 11 points, with the score sitting at 28-17.
The Eagles kept their lead at or around 10 points for the next several minutes, but the Cajuns began to cut into things during the final three minutes. A pair three-point baskets from Swain, followed by two free throws from Fields allowed the Cajuns to cut the Eagles lead in half.
Both teams were held scoreless through the final minute and a half, but Louisiana had proven their point not letting the Eagles run away with things and they trailed the Eagles, 36-31 heading into halftime.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Third Quarter): Neither team would get a basket in the first two minutes of the period, but that was ended by a basket from Goodwin to put the score at 36-33. Things then went a bit back and forth, with every attempt by Louisiana to cut into the Eagles lead met by a return basket from Georgia Southern.
But at the six-minute mark of the period the Cajuns began to work themselves into position and they started to cut into the Eagles lead with a 6-0 run. The tail end of that run saw Swain snagged her third steal of the quarter as she was off and running hitting a layup to bring the Cajuns within one point of the Eagles.
Fields, assisted by Thomas hit a basket with 4:50 left in the quarter to give the Cajuns their first lead of the game as the comeback was on. A big rebound from Doucet, pushed the score to 43-40, with just about two and a half minutes left in the quarter. But Georgia Southern had a few answers in the tank and they tied it twice down the final two minutes of the quarter to send things into the final period of regulation tied up at 45-45.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Fourth Quarter): Louisiana came out and almost let the game slip away, failing to get a point for the first four minutes of the period, and during that stretch Georgia Southern jumped back ahead by seven points to go up 52-45.
But the Cajuns weren't ready to call it a night, as a free throw and layup from Jones sparked a 9-0 run. During that run the Cajuns got a big basket from freshman Jomyra Mathis who faked out three defenders and hit a euro step to toss up a layup that kissed the glass and went in. A three-pointer from the Eagles put them back up by one ending the Cajuns' run, but from there it was game-on.
Georgia Southern then pushed their lead to four points with 1:32 left in the game, but with the score sitting at 58-54. But Jones answered with a layup 30 seconds later and the game was ready for a historic finish.
With 20 seconds left, the Eagles missed a layup and sophomore Kimberly Burton grabbed a big rebound. Following a timeout by the Cajuns, they came down looking to tie things up. Swain took and missed a jumper with 10 seconds left on the clock, but Thomas was Johnny-on-the-spot, as she grabbed the board and drew the foul. She drained both free throws and things went into overtime, with the score sitting at 58-58.
HOW IT HAPPENED (First Overtime): The first overtime saw Swain get things started, but it was a back and forth affair as neither team could get a stop, and the game was tied up three times through the period. The final tying basket came Doucet, who followed her own miss with a strong presence and she hit a layup with 30 seconds left to tie things up at 64-64 to send it into the second overtime.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Second Overtime): Things started much like the first overtime, with both teams going back and forth for the first three minutes. But a 4-0 run from Georgia Southern almost gave them the win, but it was started just a bit early and the Cajuns had time to answer back. Jones nailed a layup, after a great pass from Goodwin, to put the Cajuns up by two and Jones followed that up by forcing a great steal that lead to Thomas nailing one from the line to make it 75-72 with 25 seconds left.
But Georgia Southern had one last answer, after a made free throw by the Eagles, Hailey Dias-Allen found herself in the perfect position to play the next free throw that was missed as she tipped the ball right back in to tie things up again at 75-75 as the game moved into the third overtime.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Third Overtime): It was in the third overtime that the Cajuns finally put the stake in Georgia Southern, as they came out on a mission. After the teams traded baskets, the Cajuns took a three-point lead when Swain stepped up to the three-point line, took a pass from Jones, and hit the final dagger needed to finish off the Eagles.
Swain's shot put the Cajuns up 83-77, and a few free throws from Goodwin, making sure the Cajuns stayed up by at least seven points, wrapped up the game and an exhausted Cajuns team celebrated the historic win and their punched ticket into the second round with a 88-81 win.
NOTEWORTHY: Thomas' 12 assists are the first time a Cajuns player has had more than 10 assists since Ashley Blanche did the feat at Troy on Jan. 14, 2006; Goodwin's 28 points is a career high and it's the most points scored by a Cajuns player this season; Doucet's double-double is the second of the season and of her career; It's the first time the Cajuns have comeback from at least 10 points to win since doing it vs Troy on Mar.11, 2017;
This was the first triple-overtime game in the history of the Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Championships; It's the second overtime game in Cajuns history (second of the season); This is the second overtime game the Cajuns have played in a row and that's the first time that's happened since Dec. 16-20, 2001; It's the first overtime game the Cajuns have had in the SBC Championships since a double overtime win against North Texas on Mar. 8, 2013.
(Head Coach Garry Brodhead)
"For some reason, coming to the tournament and all that, the first game that we play in a tournament, we always seem to struggle a little bit. The last three years have kind of been the same thing, but at least we didn't go overtime in other games. It was a little sluggish to start the game offensively, but we defended really good the first half and it reversed. I thought we played a little bit better offensively the second half, and in overtime, defensively we didn't make stops, we couldn't make stops, and it was difficult. But I'm proud, I had two freshmen that had their game highs, and Skyler Goodwin scoring 28, and Ty Doucet having 14 and a double-double, so I'm proud of those kids. We had to have some kids step up in that third overtime, and Nekia Jones came in and made some good plays, big plays, as well as Simone Fields."
On the emotional energy of the team:
"Yeah, that's probably the only thing that a kid, when they're playing, can control is their effort and attitude, and I thought that was a big thing. It kind of lasted all the game because we went through some adversity tonight where they were really shooting it well, and we weren't the first half, but we kind of stuck with it. Only down by five at half and it felt like we were down by twenty, to only be down by five. I think they kind of just kept their heads on straight, and to me, it's about playing together in this tournament. Who's the toughest team? I thought we were pretty tough tonight to fight through all the things that we did."
UP NEXT FOR THE CAJUNS: The sixth seeded Ragin' Cajuns turns around to face UTA, seeded third, in the second round of the SBC Women's Basketball Championships on Thursday, Mar. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lakefront Arena.
FOLLOWING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS: Follow the Cajuns on twitter @RaginCajunsWBB for updates during the game, links to live streams, stats and the radio broadcast along with a link to the final recap after the game is over.
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