Fields Catches Fire To Lead Louisiana Into Second Round
It took a while for Simone Fields to get going, but when she finally caught fire she burned the court down and torched the Warhawks.
Fields finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds in the Ragin' Cajuns 79-72 first round victory in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, and she dominated the second half along with Nekia Jones, who posted 19 points and eight rebounds in the win.
It was truly a game of runs. ULM started off with a 12-2 run out of the gates, then the Ragin' Cajuns responded with an 11-0 run in a hurry to keep the game close. The Warhawks came out in the second quarter with another 12-2 run, but Louisiana tightened up the gap to two points, 38-36, before halftime with a late jumper from Jaylyn Gordon. Both teams traded blows in the third quarter, but the Cajuns saved their best for last.
The Warhawks wrestled with Louisiana for the first three quarters, and they took a 57-52 lead into the final quarter. Then the Ragin' Cajuns turned it on.
Louisiana stole the lead with a 14-2 run to start the fourth quarter, and they never gave the lead back. They sealed the deal at the free throw line, where they shot 77 percent (17-22 FT) for the game. They didn't have an incredible night shooting the basketball (28-71 FG, 39%), but they played well defensively to get themselves more opportunities to score.
Garry Brodhead's team continues to improve defensively. They forced ULM into 11 turnovers, while only turning over the ball three times themselves. When you win the turnover margin by eight, you give yourself a chance to win every time.
Fields and Jones led the way in the scoring column, but Gordon (14 pts), Troi Swain (13 pts) and Gabby Alexander (10 pts) also posted double-digits in the win. Alexis Collins (24 pts), Gabby Cortez (17) and Andreanna Jackson (15 pts) all had solid performances for ULM, but the Cajuns had a little more firepower in the end.
Louisiana's fourth quarter surge led them past their rival and into the second round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, where they will face the #4 seed Texas State at 2:00 pm on Thursday.