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Women’s basketball defeats Louisiana to begin conference play

Texas State women’s basketball (4-2 overall, 1-0 Sun Belt) defeated the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (1-5 overall, 0-1 Sun Belt) 71-63 in its first game of Sun Belt Conference play on Jan. 1.

This game was no different than in years past. Neither team was able to mount any significant runs but the Bobcats were able to come out with the victory in large part due to efficient shooting from the line and the strong play of the front court duo of junior forward Da’Nasia Hood and sophomore forward Lauryn Thompson.

Texas State Head Coach Zenarae Antoine says she always looks forward to playing Louisiana because of the intensity and the history between the teams.

“Quite a game… the history between Texas State and Lafayette is always one where the game is back and forth,” Antoine said. “It can get heated and chippy at times, it will have its highs and lows, but no matter what you always see two teams out there battling regardless of the scenario.”

The first quarter started off slow as each team shot a combined 0-5 in the first two minutes of the game. The stalemate was broken when senior guard Kimberly Burton, who had the first seven points for the Ragin’ Cajuns, scored a layup from the right block. On the next possession, Burton grabbed a rebound then hit a three-pointer to take Louisiana up 5-0 with 7:24 left in the first quarter.

Texas State quickly closed the gap to 5-4 after Thompson sunk a pair of free throws and then made a layup in the post in back-to-back possessions. The Bobcats took their first lead of the game after a steal by junior guard Kennedy Taylor and a fast break layup by sophomore guard Keslyn King to make the score 6-5.

With Texas State in the lead 8-7, both teams went scoreless for over two minutes until Thompson once again ended the scoring drought by spinning left out of the post up and converting a layup in the lane. Louisiana’s junior guard Brandi Williams responded by converting an and-one layup on the next possession to tie the game at 10-10 with 2:11 left in the opening period.

The teams continued to match each other on both ends of the court, and the first quarter came to a close with the Bobcats leading 17-14 after Hood got her first two points of the game with a pair of free throws.

Texas State was 0-5 on three-point attempts in the first quarter but shot 5-8 on two-pointers and 7-7 at the charity stripe. Thompson shot the ball 2-4 from the field and 4-4 at the line for a total of eight points in the quarter.

Antoine is pleased with Thompson’s play of late and has noticed a steady progression in her play, crediting her increased time on the court since arriving at Texas State.

“I look at Lauryn as a young woman who is coming into her own, meaning she didn’t have the opportunity to play when she was at VCU,” Antoine said. “That’s a young woman who truly hasn’t seen game minutes so in some ways there are some things about her that are very freshman-like… Every game what you are seeing from Lauryn is that maturity.”

The second quarter began slowly much like the first as the Bobcats turned the ball over twice and the Ragin’ Cajuns missed their first two shots in the first four possessions of the quarter. After mass substitutions by both teams, Louisiana’s sophomore guard Makayia Hallmon kicked off the scoring with a two-point jumper.

Hood responded with two consecutive three-pointers, both assisted by Taylor, to put Texas State up 23-16 with just under seven minutes until halftime.

The remainder of the quarter was back and forth, with neither team gaining a significant advantage. On the final possession of the first half, Louisiana pushed the ball up the court to senior guard Skyler Goodwin who missed a three-point attempt, but Williams went in for the offensive board and shot a floater as the buzzer sounded, taking the game into halftime with the Bobcats leading 33-29.

Through two quarters, Texas State shot the ball 40.7% (11-27, 4-12 three-pointers) from the field and 100% (7-7) on free throws. The Bobcats pulled in 18 rebounds, five of which were offensive but only led to two second-chance points. While Texas State had eight turnovers of its own, it also forced eight turnovers, four of which came from steals.

Hood led all players with 10 points (3-8, 2-5 three-pointers) in the first half, along with three rebounds and a steal. Thompson had six rebounds but did not score in the second quarter and finished the half still with eight points (2-5, 4-4 free throws). Taylor had six points (2-7, 1-3 three-pointers) to go with three assists and two steals.

The Ragin’ Cajuns shot 40% (12-30) on field goals and 66.7% (2-3) at the line in the first half. Louisiana had 16 rebounds and had six second-chance points off five offensive boards.

Hallmon had a team-high eight first-half points (3-6, 1-2 three-pointers) for the Ragin’ Cajuns, followed by Williams (3-6) and Burton (3-5, 1-2 three-pointers) with seven each. Goodwin led Louisiana with four rebounds at the break.

Both squads came out hot to start the second half. After Texas State forced a shot clock violation, Thompson scored a layup to start the scoring in the third quarter, but Williams responded with a three-pointer. Thompson then hit an elbow jumper, but Williams once again made a three-pointer to cut the Bobcats’ lead to just 37-35.

The teams traded buckets for the next three minutes as Texas State led 41-37 going into a media timeout with 5:00 left in the third quarter.

The Bobcats then took a commanding 57-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter as Hood and Thompson combined for 13 points in a 16-10 run by Texas State to close out the third quarter.

The Bobcats increased their lead to as much as 14 points with under seven minutes left in the final period. Louisiana still had some fight left in them and went on an 11-3 run, led by Burton and Williams with six points, to close the deficit to 66-60 with 1:27 to go.

It proved to be too little too late for the Ragin’ Cajuns as Texas State went on to take the game 71-63.

For the game, the Bobcats shot a season-high 48.1% (25-52, 6-17 three-pointers) and a season-high 88.2% (15-17) from the free-throw line. Texas State scored 22 points off 16 turnovers by Louisiana.

Thompson led all scorers with 25 points (9-13, 7-7 free throws), had a game-high eight rebounds (three offensive) and had two blocks. Hood finished with 23 points (7-17, 3-7 three-pointers, 6-7 free throws), six rebounds and two steals. Taylor had nine assists, eight points (3-9, 1-3 three-pointers) and two steals.

Hood, Taylor and Thompson have distinguished themselves as the leaders of the Texas State team this season. Antoine praised the trio saying that even if one of them struggles to score, she has confidence at least one of the other two will pick up the slack.

“Obviously if you’re going to have a night where your two forwards drop more than half your points that’s a good night- that’s a good night,” Antoine said. “Kennedy is generally our second-leading scorer, but to me between Kennedy, Lauryn and Da’Nasia on any given night any one of them could be in double digits.”

Louisiana shot 40.7% (24-59, 8-21 three-pointers) from the field and 63.6% (7-11) at the line. The Ragin’ Cajuns pulled in 13 offensive rebounds leading to 15 second-chance points.

Williams had 20 points (6-13, 3-8 three-pointers), and Burton had 15 points (7-12, 1-2 three-pointers). Burton also had a team-high seven rebounds (three offensive).

In their next game, the Bobcats will play Louisiana again at 4 p.m on Jan. 2 in Strahan Arena.

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