www.RaginCajuns.com – Turnovers proved costly as a furious comeback was not enough to lift Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns women’s basketball team over Arkansas State in an 80-70 loss on Wednesday night at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.
The Red Wolves forced the Cajuns into 24 turnovers and converted the miscues into 29 points.
Arkansas State held a double-digit lead for most of the second half until Louisiana cut it to single digits in the final minutes of the contest. UL trailed by as little as four after back-to-back triples with 44.1 seconds to go. However, it was too late as the Red Wolves sealed the victory at the charity stripe.
UL (9-9, 2-3 Sun Belt) dropped its’ second consecutive contest, while Arkansas State (10-8, 3-2 Sun Belt) notched their sixth victory in a row over Louisiana.
Four Cajuns reached double-figures, as UL shot 39 percent (25-of- 64) from the floor. Louisiana also tallied five three-pointers, a first since making five at North Texas on Jan. 1.
Reaching a season-best was the junior Danielle Smith. The guard scored a team-best 16 points, including a trifecta of triples made in the contest. Eleven of her 16 points came in the final 4:25 of the game. Smith also reeled in three boards, dishing out two assists and recording a pair of steals.
Mercedes Johnson’s 15 point performance moved her two-points shy on the Cajuns’ top-10 scoring list (1,057). The junior from Houston also led the team with a game-high seven rebounds.
Johnson’s point total on Wednesday moved her into 11th all-time in the UL record books, as she passed Onna Charles’(2004-08) mark of 1,047 points.
Senior Lyndra Bell chipped in with 12 points and five rebounds. The Lafayette native made four of seven shots from the floor for 57 percent.
Jasmine Barnes shot 50 percent in the contest (5-of-10) to total 10 points. Barnes concluded the contest with three assists, two rebounds and two steals.
In the first half, UL held a slight 6-5 lead to start the game until back-to-back turnovers quickly turned into four points for the Red Wolves by the 15:54 mark.
Turnovers continued to plague the Cajuns as Arkansas State took advantage and built a 15-8 lead with 11:31 remaining.
UL also suffered from the floor, connecting on just 3-of-13 shots (23.1 percent) through the first eight and a half minutes. The poor shooting led to a scoring drought that lasted over four minutes.
Bell finally snapped the drought with a lay-up at 10:42 to make the score 17-10 in favor of ASU. The senior forward was responsible for eight of the Cajun’s first 10 points.
A quick 8-0 run from Arkansas State built a double-digit lead, 25-10, with 7:51 remaining.
The Cajuns trailed by as much as 19 before an 8-0 run cut into ASU’s lead with 2:08 remaining.
But it was not enough as the Red Wolves took a 38-25 lead into the break. The Cajuns had trouble finding the bottom of the net, shooting just 25.8 percent from the floor (8-31).
Barnes came out hot to start the second half scoring UL’s first six points. Yet the Cajuns’ defense could not provide a stop as ASU continued to lead, 46-34, at the 15:56 mark.
Neither team could find the basket over a stretch that spanned three minutes until Johnson hit a lay-up at 10:46 to close the gap, 42-52.
However, a 7-0 burst allowed the Red Wolves to pull away, 59-42, with 8:56 remaining.
ASU held the double-digit lead for nearly seven minutes until Smith knocked down back-to-back-to-back three pointers. The baskets cut the deficit to single digits, 70-74, with 44.1 left in the contest.
UL failed to hit another basket and was forced to put the Red Wolves on the free throw line for the final seconds of the game.
The Cajuns (9-9, 2-3 Sun Belt) now face UALR (10-5, 4-0 Sun Belt) in Little Rock, Ark. on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is set for 4:30 pm CT.