Southeastern now 2-0 in Southland women’s play with 71-67 win at SHSU

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Southeastern Louisiana held off a late Sam Houston rally and earned a 71-67 victory in Southland Conference women’s basketball action Wednesday night in the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.

With the win in its league road opener, SLU (3-2, 2-0 Southland) is off to a 2-0 start to conference play for the first time since joining the Southland prior to the 1997-98 season. The Lady Lions snapped a six-game losing skid in the series versus Sam Houston (4-4, 0-2 Southland), defeating the Bearkats for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign.

Playing just seven players, Southeastern was able to build a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and quell the Bearkats’ comeback hopes in the waning seconds. SLU fourth-year head coach Ayla Guzzardo cited her team’s attitude as a catalyst for Wednesday’s victory.

“We could see it yesterday at practice that we were playing with confidence,” Guzzardo commented. “To beat a well-coached team the caliber of Sam Houston State on the road, you have to believe you can be successful. This team came in tonight’s game with the expectation to win and that was the difference.”

Sam Houston has used relentless defensive pressure to dominate the series in recent seasons versus SLU. The Lady Lions countered by playing five guards throughout the contest.

“A few seasons ago, we had a hard time even getting the ball in against (SHSU),” Guzzardo said. “Tonight, we had enough ball handlers to be able to counter their pressure and that’s simply not been a luxury we’ve had in recent years.”

Hailey Giaratano and Cierria Cunningham shared team-high honors with 17 points apiece, while Morgan Carrier chipped in 14 points for Southeastern. Breonca Ducksworth dished out a team-high five assists, while Chrissy Brown grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for the Lady Lions. Jaylen Huderson (seven points, eight rebounds) and Daija Harvey (five points, seven rebounds) each provided effective minutes off the bench for the Lady Lions.

Sam Houston was led by the duo of Amber Leggett and Jolicia Williams with 17 points each. Faith Cook pitched in with 13 points to go with a team-high five assists.

The game featured 11 ties and seven lead changes. The Bearkats led by two points at the end of both the first and second quarters before SLU finally swung the momentum in the latter part of the third quarter.

A heads up play by Cunningham sent Southeastern into the final period with some momentum. With the clock winding down in the third quarter, the junior guard drew a shooting foul on Diamond Hunter from beyond half court with less than a second left. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama native calmly sank all three free throws to give SLU a 59-54 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Sam Houston would get as close as three in the fourth quarter, but Southeastern went on a 10-4 run, punctuated by a Huderson layup that gave SLU its largest advantage – 69-60 – with 3:16 left.

The Bearkats would not go away quietly. Leggett scored six straight points, then Williams hit a free throw to cap a 7-0 run that cut the SLU lead to 69-67 with just under a minute left.

After both teams traded empty possessions, Giaratano drew a foul with 5.7 seconds remaining and drained both free throws to ice the game. Cook’s three at the buzzer was no good and the Lady Lions improved to 2-0 in conference play for the first time in school history.

Up Next
Southeastern will continue its road swing on Saturday, traveling to Nicholls for a 2 p.m. Southland contest. The game between the Lady Lions and Colonels will be broadcast live in the Hammond area on KSLU-FM (90.9), online at www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the TuneIn Radio and Gameday Experience apps.

Southeastern Louisiana 71 (3-2, 2-0 SLC)
Carrier 6-11 0-0 14, Cunningham 7-11 3-3 17, Brown 3-8 0-0 6, Ducksworth 2-12 1-3 5, Giaratano 4-8 8-9 17, Huderson 3-7 1-4 7, Harvey 0-3 5-6 5. Totals 25-60 18-25 71.
Sam Houston State 67 (4-4, 0-2 SLC)
Leggett 7-14 3-4 17, Cleveleand 3-7 3-5 9, Batista 1-2 0-0 2, Williams 7-14 3-5 17, Cook 1-13 10-10 13, Jefferson 2-5 0-0 4, Hunter 1-8 1-2 3, Levay 1-4 0-0 2, Osborne 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-67 20-26 67.
End of 1st Quarter – SHSU 25, SLU 23. Halftime – SHSU 41, SLU 39. End of 3rd Quarter – SLU 59, SHSU 54. 3-point goals – SLU 3-11 (Carrier 2-4, Giaratano 1-3, Harvey 0-2, Brown 0-1, Huderson 0-1), SHSU 1-14 (Cook 1-7, Hunter 0-3, Williams 0-2, Leggett 0-1, Levay 0-1). Technical Fouls – Carrier. Fouled Out – Ducksworth, Batista, Jefferson. Rebounds – SLU 42 (Brown 10), SHSU 43 (Three with 6). Assists – SLU 16 (Ducksworth 5), SHSU 16 (Cook 5). Total Fouls – SLU 26, SHSU 27. A – 311.

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