Texas State advances to Sun Belt championship game with win over Louisiana

Photo From the Sun Belt Conference

Texas State Women's Basketball

Texas State is headed to the Sun Belt Championship tournament final.

The No. 2 seeded Bobcats (23-8, 14-4 Sun Belt) survived a late-game rally by No. 6 Louisiana (17-16, 10-8) to defeat the Ragin’ Cajuns, 62-56, on Saturday inside Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.

“What a hard fought battle,” head coach Zenarae Antoine said. “The one thing that I think our team understands, especially our upperclassmen, is that Lafayette does a phenomenal job playing with a lot of energy and playing with a nonstop attitude. We’ve understood for a long time that coach (Garry) Brodhead and his team, it doesn’t matter how many quarters they’ve played or how many games they’ve played, they don’t stop. They keep fighting and they keep working hard. Understanding that is part of the battle when you’re in this type of situation here in postseason. I’m really proud of my kids.”

Texas State and Louisiana played a tight contest throughout Saturday’s game. But the Bobcats looked to be comfortably heading to a win with a 56-42 lead with 4:13 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Ragin’ Cajuns, however, slowly cut into Texas State’s advantage. Louisiana used a 9-0 run in the final minutes of the game to bring the Bobcats’ lead down to 56-53.

Texas State turned the ball over with 36 seconds left in regulation, which gave the Ragin’ Cajuns an opportunity to tie the game. But Louisiana freshman Jomyra Mathis missed a shot with 33 seconds remaining, and the Ragin’ Cajuns were forced to foul.

Senior guard Taeler Deer sank two free throws to push Texas State’s lead out to 58-53. Louisiana senior forward Nekia Jones responded with a 3-pointer to bring the Ragin’ Cajuns to within 58-56.

But that’s as close as Louisiana got. Texas State closed out the game to defeat the Ragin’ Cajuns.

“(My team) made some big stops and some critical free throws down there toward the end when the game got really close — For that I am thankful,” Antoine said. “ I have a lot of the upperclassmen leadership to thank for that.”

Deer led the Bobcats with a game-high 21 points and had seven assists and four rebounds. Junior forward Toshua Leavitt tallied 20 points. Sophomore guard Brooke Holle recorded 10 rebounds and nine points.

The Bobcats finished shooting 33 percent, but were able to force 16 turnovers and scored 16 points off Louisiana’s errors. Texas State outrebounded the Ragin’ Cajuns, 36-34.

The Bobcats look to advance to the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship tournament with a win against No.1 Little Rock (22-9, 17-1) in the Sun Belt championship game on Sunday at 6 p.m.

San Marcos Daily Record

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