SLU-UL Lafayette defensive battle goes to Ragin’ Cajuns, 54-52

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HAMMOND, La. – A defensive struggle between in-state rivals UL Lafayette and Southeastern Louisiana University ended with the Ragin’ Cajuns making the last defensive stand on the way to a 54-52 victory in nonconference women’s basketball action Wednesday night in the University Center.

SLU (2-3) had a chance at the last shot, but great ball pressure by UL Lafayette (4-1) forced a desperation heave by Cierria Cunningham to miss the mark. The Ragin’ Cajuns won their eighth straight meeting in the all-time series in a hard-fought battle that featured seven lead changes.

Both teams shot under 40 percent from the floor and less than 20 percent from behind the arc. While neither team was efficient, both the Southland Conference preseason favorite Lady Lions and defending Sun Belt Conference champion Ragin’ Cajuns took care of the ball as each committed just nine turnovers.

Hailey Giaratano was the lone Lady Lion in double figures with 10 points, while also matching a career-high with six assists. Cunningham, Caitlyn Williams and Natalie Kelly each scored eight points, while Alexius Horne chipped in with seven. Williams narrowly missed her first double-double of 2021-22, as she pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds.

Makayia Hallmon led the Ragin’ Cajuns with 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. Tamera Johnson (12 points), Ty’Reona Doucet (11) and Destiny Rice (11) gave the visitors a quartet of double-digit scorers.

The Ragin’ Cajuns started the game on fire from the floor, making its first seven shots to take a 15-8 advantage. Southeastern was able to whittle the lead down to 17-14 after the opening period.

After UL Lafayette scored the first two buckets of the second quarter, SLU held the Ragin’ Cajuns scoreless for the final 8:12 of the period. The Lady Lions closed out the half on an 11-0 run and took a 25-22 lead into the break.

A back-and-forth third quarter saw the Lady Lions trailing, 39-38, heading into the final period. The Ragin’ Cajuns looked poised to break away early in the fourth quarter, opening up its largest lead, 48-39, with a 9-1 run to start the fourth quarter.

Back-to-back baskets by Horne started an 11-5 rally by Southeastern that was capped by a Williams basket that cut the lead to 53-52 with just over a minute left.

Williams cleaned up the glass after a missed three by Diamond Morrison and SLU had the chance to take the lead. Giaratano had a good go-ahead look from close range, but it rimmed out.

Southeastern had no choice but to foul Rice, who made one-of two free throws. Williams grabbed the rebound to give the Lady Lions one last shot, but great defense by UL Lafayette kept SLU from getting off a clean shot.

Wednesday was the first of two home games this week for the Lady Lions, who will welcome Utah State on Saturday at noon. Admission is free for Saturday’s contest. Daija Harvey and Jaylen Huderson will be Saturday’s Spotlight Players of the Game and the first 150 fans will receive trading cards featuring the sophomore duo, courtesy of PRIDE.
Saturday’s game can also be heard at www.LionSports.net/ListenLive.

UL Lafayette 54 (4-1)
Johnson 5-6 2-2 12, Doucet 5-8 1-2 11, Hallmon 6-14 3-4 16, Morrison 1-7 0-0 2, Rice 2-6 6-8 11, Wheaton 1-9 0-0 2, Wren 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-52 12-16 54.
Southeastern 52 (2-3)
Carrier 1-14 2-2 5, Williams 3-7 1-2 8, Kelly 3-6 2-4 8, Ducksworth 1-1 0-0 2, Giaratano 4-8 2-4 10, Cunningham 3-7 2-2 8, Brown 1-3 1-2 4, Harvey 0-6 0-0 0, Horne 2-5 3-4 7, Bell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-57 13-20 52.
End of 1st Quarter – ULL 17, SLU 14. Halftime – SLU 25, ULL 22. End of 3rd Quarter –ULL 39, SLU 38. 3-point goals – ULL 2-13 (Hallmon 1-4, Rice 1-3, Morrison 0-4, Johnson 0-1, Jones 0-1), SLU 3-24 (Carrier 1-9, Brown 1-2, Williams 1-1, Giaratano 0-2, Cunningham 0-2, Horne 0-2). Technical Fouls – None. Fouled out – None. Rebounds – ULL 36 (Hallmon 6), SLU 40 (Williams 16). Assists – ULL 6 (Hallmon 3), SLU 11 (Giaratano 6). Total Fouls – ULL 18, SLU 15. A – 457.

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