LAFAYETTE – The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Basketball team stormed back from a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime and overtook Nicholls in the extra period to capture a 69-63 win on Saturday, November 18 at the Cajundome.
When Brandi Williams sank a three-pointer as she was fouled with six seconds remaining in regulation and completed the four-point play, Louisiana (2-2) pulled ahead 56-55 for its first lead since the first quarter. It also completed the fight back from a 49-36 deficit the Cajuns found themselves in with only 7:46 left in regulation.
Nicholls (3-2) managed to draw a foul and made a free throw with 0:03 showing to temporarily delay the Ragin’ Cajuns’ celebration and force overtime.
After a series of basket swaps midway through overtime, the Cajuns defense held the Colonels without a field goal make the final 1:29 and made eight consecutive free throws, part of a game-ending 8-1 run, to put the finishing touches on the comeback.
Louisiana found its shooting touch when it need it the most, hitting 8-of-13 field goals from the final six minutes of the fourth quarter onward and closing the game 15-of-18 at the free throw line combined over the last two periods.
The thrilling victory allowed UL to halt a two-game losing streak as the squad arrives on a two-week break from regular season play.
The Cajuns comeback was sparked by a three-basket sequence inside of six minutes in the fourth quarter. Tamiah Robinson knocked down a paint jumper at 5:44, then the pressure defense forced back-to-back Nicholls turnovers leading to scores from Destiny Rice and Ashlyn Jones cutting the deficit to 49-42 by the 5:05 mark.
The defense continued to frustrate the Colonels, holding them to one field goal the rest of regulation, and an and-one from Rice at 2:54 and triple from Nubia Benedith at 1:26, which made it 55-50, set up Williams’ heroics.
Nicholls shot 50 percent in the first quarter and ended the frame with an 11-2 run to jump ahead 17-12 and place the Cajuns into comeback mode the entirety of the contest.
Williams heaved a buzzer-beater attempt that was banked in to trim Nicholls’ halftime lead to 25-23. UL would be forced into the late comeback as the Colonels made the first move in the second half, connecting on three field goals from 7:26 and 5:54 of the third quarter to extend the advantage to 32-23.
LEADING THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
The Ragin’ Cajuns were led offensively by a trio of 17-point scorers: Williams, Rice and Tamera Johnson.
Williams drained five three-pointers, none bigger than the three landed after the break. The point production was a season-high tying total (17 vs. Kent State), and third consecutive game in double figures.
Rice was successful of 5-of-8 field goal attempts and a perfect 7-for-7 at the line to lead the way as the Cajuns shot 70-plus percent a second straight game finishing 18-of-25 (72 percent). The senior point guard went 4-for-4 at the charity stripe in the final 10 seconds to seal the victory.
Johnson’s biggest impact came on the glass as she hauled in an impressive 17 rebounds (5 OREB, 12 DREB) for her first double-double of the young season. It was the fourth time in as many outings that the junior forward from Lafayette poured in double digits in points.
Benedith had a team-leading four assists and scored a season-high 10 points capped off by the timely triple in the fourth quarter.
Rice and Robinson each added three assists as UL totaled a season-high tying 12 as a team. Robinson was the second-leading rebounder with six boards on the defensive end and Williams tacked on four rebounds.
Louisiana forced Nicholls into 21 turnovers with Robinson (4) and Rice (3) combining for seven steals.
GARRY BRODHEAD’S THOUGHTS
On the team rallying to execute the comeback
“We’ve got kids that play hard no matter what. It wasn’t the prettiest game. We didn’t shoot it very well at the beginning, but our confidence never left us. We believe in what we do, and I think the biggest thing is that we believe in one another.”
On ability to change the momentum in the fourth quarter
“We were turning them over. We’re pressuring them and getting inside but can’t convert. At the end of the game, we were able to make steals and finish. Now, you’re putting a lot of pressure on them.”
UP NEXT FOR LOUISIANA
Louisiana completes its current homestand at the Cajundome with back-to-back exhibition games surrounding Thanksgiving on Nov. 21 vs. Xavier (La.) and Nov. 27 vs. Loyola, (La.).
The Ragin’ Cajuns will resume regular season play on Saturday, December 2 in New Orleans facing the Privateers in a 2:00 p.m. contest at Lakefront Arena.