UL Women Defeat Oral Roberts, 65-64, Advance To WBI Finals
UL junior guard Keke Veal
Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajun women’s basketball team advanced in the Women’s Basketball Invitational on Thursday night, defeating the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, 65-64, in semifinal round action at historic Earl K. Long Gym.
Louisiana came back from a 19-point first half deficit to capture their third game of the tournament, and their third postseason victory in program history.
The win moves the Cajuns into the WBI finals, where they will play host to Siena on Sunday afternoon.
Oral Roberts came out smoking, nailing their first five three-point shots, and went out to the biggest lead of the game, 19 points, 34-15, with 3:35 remaining in the opening half.
Louisiana drew a little closer right before the break, going on a 8-1 run, to cut the Oral Roberts lead to 35-23 as the teams headed into the locker room at halftime.
The Golden Eagles out-shot the Cajuns, 57%-37%, including going 6-8 from beyond the three-point arc, while also out-rebounding the Cajuns, 35-23, over the first 20 minutes.
Faith Ihim and Atoe' Jackson led the way for Oral Roberts in the first half, with 9 points apiece, while Keke Veal had 7 points Louisiana.
The Golden Eagles, refusing to give up ground, extended their lead to 13 points, 42-29, with 14:09 to go, and continued to lead by double-digits, 49-39, with 9:22 left.
That's when Louisiana went on an 11-0 run, and after a long Jaylin Gordon three-pointer, took a 50-49 lead with 7:22 remaining.
One possession later, after the Golden Eagles tied the game on a free throw, Gordon nailed another long three-point bomb, giving the Cajuns a 53-50 advantage with 6:11 to go.
After a defensive stop, Veal gave UL a 5-point lead with a lay-up at the 5:51 mark, making the score 55-50.
Refusing to go away, Oral Roberts answered with a 4-0 run of their own, which cut the Louisiana lead to 55-54 with 5:03 to go, before eventually grabbing a 58-57 advantage with 3:23 remaining.
That's when Gordon sank yet another long three-pointer, giving the Cajuns the lead back, 60-58, with 3:05 left.
The Golden Eagles scored four-unanswered points to take a 62-60 lead, before Veal made good on a lay-up in the paint with 1:16 to go, evening the game, 62-62.
Oral Roberts grabbed the lead right back, 64-62, after Jackson scored a lay-up in the paint, before Louisiana came back down the court, and missed two shots, before Veal grabbed the second offensive rebound of the possession, and layed it off to Simone Fields, who scored in the paint, and drew the foul.
Fields sank the free throw, which gave them a one-point lead, 65-64, with :18 left.
That turned out to be the game-winner, with Oral Roberts failed to get off a sot on their last possession, as Louisiana held on for the exciting one-point win.
Oral Roberts out-shot Louisiana from the field, 54%-42%, while also finishing with a 37-21 rebound advantage. UL forced 24 turnovers however, which turned out to be the difference in the game.
Veal led the way for the Cajuns, finishing with 23 points, while Gordon and Kia Wilridge finished with 15 and 12, respectively.
In a losing cause for the Golden Eagles, Ihim finished with 22 points and 9 rebounds, while Jackson chipped in with 13 points.
With the victory, Louisiana improved to 22-12 on the season, while Oral Roberts fell to 18-16.
The Cajuns return to action on Sunday, when they host Siena the finals of the WBI..
Tipoff time at Earl K. Long Gym is slated for 4 o’clock.