LAFAYETTE, La. – Louisiana women’s basketball fell in an overtime thriller to Southern Miss, 69-64, Saturday inside the Cajundome to close out the regular season.

The Ragin’ Cajuns finished the regular season with a 16-14 (10-8) ledger and earned the No. 7 seed at next week’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Pensacola, Florida, where they will face off against App State at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Louisiana faced a deficit early in the contest, trailing 17-8 after the first quarter but cut the lead to five, 31-26, at the half after shooting 46.5-percent from the floor in the second quarter as Lenay Wheaton and Tamera Johnson led the way with six points apiece.

The Cajuns came storming out of the gates in the third quarter. Southern Miss scored the first bucket of the second half, but Louisiana went on a 10-0 run sparked by a pair of Jaylyn James steals to lead 36-33.

Louisiana’s largest lead came with 2:06 remaining in the quarter as Ashlyn Jones hit a pullup jumper to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 42-36 advantage. Southern Miss rallied in the waning seconds on a pair of free throws and a last second jumper to trim the lead to 42-40.

The fourth quarter was a see-saw affair as it featured three lead changes and a tie. Southern Miss took its largest lead of the quarter with 4:09 remaining as they embarked on a 7-0 run to lead 52-49.

The Ragin’ Cajuns responded with run of their own to take a 55-52 lead on a pair of Rice buckets and two Nubia Benedith free throws. The Lady Eagles hit a 3-pointer with 1:36 to go in regulation before Wheaton nailed two free throws with 1:14 to even the game and force the contest in to overtime at 57-57.

In the extra period, Louisiana led by one with a minute remaining but Southern Miss closed out the game on a 6-0 run to secure the victory.

Wheaton paced the Louisiana offense with her second-consecutive 20-point performance. The Hope, Arkansas, native scored a team-high 21 points and buried three 3-points, hauled in three rebounds and dished out two assists.

Rice added 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go along with four rebounds as Tamera Johnson scored 10 points, had six rebounds and tallied three steals.  

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