Cajuns Comeback Stops UT Arlington, 59-53
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns outscored UT Arlington 13-2 in a frantic final three minutes and advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference basketball tournament with a 59-53 win over UT Arlington Wednesday night at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.
The #3 seeded Cajuns (21-9) advance to play #2 Little Rock in Saturday's semifinals at 2:30pm.
The Cajuns trailed 51-46 after Toma Zalackaite scored inside to break a 46-46 tie and Amara Wainright hit a three pointer. But Sylvana Okde hit a clutch triple, her third of the game with 2:26 to play and after UTA missed two chances to score, Kia Wildrige hit a 17-footer to tie the game with 1:38 left.
Keke Veal then stole the inbounds pass and fed Simone Fields for the basket that put the Cajuns ahead for good, 53-51 with 1:28 to play. Veal then got another steal and hit two free throws for a 55-51 lead with 1:07 left. The Cajuns forced another turnover as Brooklyn Arceneaux stole a pass from LaShanda Green leading to another pair of free throws by Veal. Zalackaite hit a short jumper with :26 to play to cut the lead to four, but Jodi Quinn hit a pair of free throws for the final margin.
Fields led the Cajuns with 18 points, 14 in the second half and made 9-10 field goal attempts. Veal scored ten of her 15 points after halftime and contributed four assists and three steals.
Arceneaux and Wilridge led the Cajuns with seven rebounds each as Louisiana outrebounded the opposition 35-26. UTA was playing without 6' 5" all-conference player Rebekah Van Dijk, who was called home on a family emergency just hours before tipoff.
The Lady Mavs (15-16) were paced with three in double figures as Cierra Johnson tallied 13 points, while Zaleckaite and Wainwright added twelve points each.
#1 Arkansas State and #4 Troy will play in the first semifinal Saturday at noon.