LAFAYETTE –The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Basketball team and Troy traded last-second baskets at the end of the game, but it was the Trojans who landed a game-deciding score in taking an 81-80 overtime win in a top-two Sun Belt matchup on Saturday, February 4 at the Cajundome.
The loss was gut-wrenching for Louisiana (14-10, 8-4 SBC) which had locked up the Trojans (15-8, 10-2 SBC) the entire fourth quarter, holding them to 10 points, to work their way back from a double-digit deficit of as many as 13 points to extend the game.
The comeback was completed when the Ragin’ Cajuns erased a nine-point, 69-60, deficit in the final minute of regulation. Tamera Johnson scored eight points off a pair of layups and four free throws, then Sherry Porter’s top of the key triple with 0:01 showing evened the score at 71-all.
Destiny Rice powered her way in for a clutch score at 1:45 of overtime to keep Louisiana ahead 76-73, then after the Cajuns fended off a pair of Trojans shot attempts Rice went to the line to for a pair of makes to extend the lead to 78-73.
A basket and a steal led to three unanswered points for Troy, but Rice recreated a two-possession game, 80-76, with two more free throw makes with 0:31 remaining.
The Trojans came right back after a timeout moved the ball to the frontcourt, getting a three-pointer from Makayia Hallmon to make it 80-79 then after a pair of Cajuns misses at the free throw line it was Tai’sheka Porchia hitting an off-balanced paint jumper that went in with 0:01 on the clock to provide the go-ahead points.
It was the second time in three weeks that it took overtime to decide the winner between Louisiana and Troy. Back on January 14 in Troy, the Ragin’ Cajuns rallied from down eight points twice in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
By the slightest of margins the Ragin’ Cajuns missed an opportunity to draw even with the Trojans in the Sun Belt standings. Troy gained a game and exited the Cajundome with a two-game lead over second-place Louisiana in the standings.
Johnson scored a season-high and game-leading total of 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting and led Louisiana’s charge at the free throw line going 9-of-11. The Ragin’ Cajuns offset a 33 percent shooting effort by being able to get to the line, converting 27 free throws compared to the Trojans’ 12 makes.
Nubia Benedith was the other key player in Louisiana’s second half storm back as she produced 12 of her 16 points after the break. She scored two timely baskets in the final five minutes of regulation, one at 4:19 to end a defensive stalemate and get the Cajuns offense going and another at 1:19 that triggered the 13-2 run that prompted the extra period.
Rice finished with 14 points which included a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line. She had the steady hand in overtime producing six consecutive points over a one-minute span to put Louisiana in position to possibly claim the win.
Jaylyn James used three triples to generate the bulk of her 12 points as the fourth Ragin’ Cajun to score double digits joining the group that combined to help the squad overcome the absence of injured leading scorer Lanay Wheaton (11.7).
Hallmon led the visiting Trojans with 20 points off a game-high eight field goal makes, the last being the crucial three-pointer at the 30-second mark of overtime which gave her team the chance for the game-ending heroics from Porchia.
The Trojans ability to generate a pair of 20-point frames in the middle quarters had the Ragin’ Cajuns in catch-up mode throughout regulation. The visitors maintained their edge, and had enough points to reach the overtime session, largely due to a 10-of-19 showing in the third quarter that kept Louisiana from chipping away at the lead.
UP NEXT FOR LOUISIANA
Louisiana faces its longest stretch of road games in Sun Belt Conference play, competing in a series of four consecutive road games that runs through Saturday, February 18. The Ragin’ Cajuns won’t return to the Cajundome until Wednesday, February 22.
The upcoming road-laden slate starts next week with stops on Thursday, February 9 in Harrisonburg, Virginia (at James Madison) and Saturday, February 11 in Mobile, Alabama (at South Alabama).
Louisiana kicks off the extended stay away from home at 6:00 p.m. (CST) on Thursday (Feb. 9) facing fellow Sun Belt second-place holder JMU.