LAFAYETTE – The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Basketball team received contributions from its entire roster in piecing together a 72-40 victory over LSU-Shreveport in front of a crowd 1,982 that attended the program’s 9th Annual Education game held on Tuesday, November 29 at the Cajundome.
The win was the third straight for Louisiana (4-4) which evened its record as the first month of the 2022-23 season came to a close.
Out of Louisiana’s 14 players who took the court everyone played at least nine minutes, each one had least one rebound and there were 12 who registered points and made at least one field goal. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored on over half of their possessions (35 out of 63), continued to score inside with 42 points in the paint and saw a hefty 46-point production from its bench.
Tied 2-all at the first media timeout with 4:54 left in the first quarter, the spark provided by the bench kicked in when Alicia Blanton and Mariah Stewart scored on back-to-back possessions out of the break to stretch the lead to 7-2 by the 3:36 mark.
Louisiana created a buffer in the waning moments of the first quarter after Stewart answered an LSUS three-pointer with a paint jumper at 1:10 and Sherry Porter hit a pull-up jump shot with 7.5 seconds to make it 13-7.
The lead was pushed into double digits quickly at the start of the second quarter, as Nubia Benedith buried a trey, Destiny Rice scored on the break off a steal, and Stewart nabbed the board after the free throw miss for a layup – all occurring by the 9:12 mark and stretching the lead to 20-7.
An 8-2 run before halftime, started by Rice’s triple with 1:34 showing for a 35-16 edge, moved the margin over 20 points. Jaylyn James’ triple inside of 35 seconds brought the lead to 20 points and Tamera Johnson’s reverse layup with two seconds had the Ragin’ Cajuns rolling into halftime up 40-18.
Starting with an and-one conversion at the 5:23 mark of the third quarter, Blanton produced seven of her game-high 14 points by 2:09 and Louisiana was comfortably ahead 59-26.
Several younger players got meaningful minutes in the fourth quarter as the Ragin’ Cajuns coasted to the finish line. A seven-point flurry over a two-minute stretch started with a Lizzy Ratcliff driving layup off the glass at 3:25, which returned the lead to 30 points at 65-35, and finished with Imani Ivery converting a fastbreak layup at 2:30 and landing her first official collegiate three-pointer at 1:13.
Louisiana shot 53.7 percent (29-of-54), continuing an upward trend in that category, outrebounded LSUS 39-21 which included 14 offensive rebounds and held the opposition below 30 percent shooting for the second straight game.
The Ragin’ Cajuns defeated the Pilots in the Education Game for the second straight season and improved to 5-4 all-time in the once-a-season, early morning event.
The point total (14) for Blanton marked her career-high as a Ragin’ Cajun, accomplished in her first 20-plus minute outing since last November. She finished 4-of-6 from the floor and 6-of-7 at the charity stripe.
Benedith knocked down four of her five field goal attempts for nine points and led the way with seven points in 13 minutes during the opening half.
Stewart and James each posted eight points, a season-best figure for both. Stewart led the charge inside in the first half with three makes while James finished the game a perfect 3-of-3 shooting and sank her lone three-point attempt.
Ivery and Wilnie Joseph boosted the bench production by combining for 12 points (six points apiece).
Lanay Wheaton (3), Rice (2), Benedith (2) and Imani Rothschild (2) all tallied multiple assists in leading Louisiana to its season-high of 13 assists. Blanton took home game-high honors with seven rebounds and the efforts on the board were supplemented by four each from Porter and Rothschild.
The Ragin’ Cajuns round out their week-long stay at home on Saturday, December 3 with a 2:00 p.m. matinee at the Cajundome against Louisiana Christian (formerly Louisiana College).
The matchup with the Wildcats marks the final game before final exams week. It’s the first meeting between the two in-state programs since the 1996-97 season.
After meeting LCU, Louisiana plays its final road non-conference games at Auburn (Dec. 11) and Lamar (Dec. 17).