ALEXANDRIA, La. (LSUA) - The #25 LSUA women’s basketball tied the program record for most wins in a single season by slowly pulling away inside the final 2:30 for an 81-76 win over the LSU Shreveport Pilots Thursday night at The Fort.
The game was very sluggish to start, with LSUS going one of two at the free throw line to account for the game’s only point through the first two minutes. But then, the Pilots started to find some rhythm offensively while the Generals were still stuck in the starting blocks, helping LSUS build up an early ten-point lead as Alexandra Miller hit a three-pointer with just about 4:30 left in the quarter to put the Pilots up 11-1. On LSUA’s ensuing possession, Brittany Hall sent a pass inside to E’Layzha Bates for the Generals’ first field goal of the contest as the offense finally kicked into gear. That bucket started a 12-0 LSUA run that culminated with just under a minute left as Danyale Bayonne kicked the ball out to an open Courtney Dawsey, who drained a three-pointer to put the Generals up 13-11. Fu’tra Banks hit a bucket as the horn sounded to tie the game at 13-13 after one quarter of play.
Scoring came a little bit easier in the second quarter, with LSUS building up a 19-15 lead to start the period off of an Alexandra Miller jumper with less than eight minutes remaining. But that only led to a LSUA 7-0 spurt that Kelsey Thaxton completed as she pulled up for a jumper in transition to put the Generals up 22-19 with just more than five minutes left in the half. The Pilots responded in kind, going on an 8-0 run after trading buckets to take a 29-24 lead as Shanuqua Tobias hit a three with just more than 2:30 left. The two teams traded buckets for the rest of the quarter, with Danyale Bayonne hitting a triple with just seconds remaining to cut the LSUS lead to 35-33 at the break.
After struggling through the first two quarters, the Generals finally seemed to find a true rhythm right out of the halftime locker room as Kelsey Thaxton drained a three on LSUA’s opening possession to start a 10-0 run to kick off the second half. The run culminated as Danyale Bayonne stole the ball and did it all herself, getting to the rim for a lay-up and a 43-35 LSUA lead just 2:30 into the third quarter. But that rhythm didn’t last long as LSUS responded with a 12-2 run as Tristen Lasker gave the Pilots the lead back with a three-pointer with 5:15 left that made it 47-45 LSUS. After trading buckets, LSUA found that gear again, going on a 14-2 run that Bayonne finished again by grabbing a rebounds and going coast-to-coast for a lay-up and a 61-51 LSUA lead with 30 seconds left in the period. But LSUS’s Alexandra Miller wouldn’t let the Generals get away, hitting a pair of threes in the closing seconds, including one at the buzzer, to pull LSUS back within 63-57 at the end of the third quarter.
Miller’s momentum taking threes at the end of the third quarter pushed the Pilots into a run to start the fourth. Bayonne hit a jumper to start the period, but then the Pilots scored the next 11 points as Keiara Williams scored from right underneath the basket to with just less than 5:30 remaining to give LSUS a 68-65 lead. Several possessions later, Bayonne got out on the break and found an open Kelsey Thaxton, who drained a three to tie the game at 68-68 and LSUS would not lead again. A couple possessions later, E’Layzha Bates gave the Generals the lead for good as she scored while getting fouled for an old-fashioned three-point play with just less than three minutes left. After a LSUS bucket, Brittany Hall would follow Bates’ lead, hitting a basket while being fouled and converting the free throw to up the lead to 74-70 with 2:31 left. Bates moved the lead to six as she put back a miss while being fouled on LSUA’s next possession to make it 76-70, though she would miss the free throw, with just less than two minutes left. A bucket by Courtney Dawsey and free throws down the stretch helped the Generals close out the win.
“It wasn’t the prettiest win, but these ladies gutted this one out,” said LSUA head coach Bob Austin. There just seemed to be no real rhythm to this game much tonight, but we fought through it and got a much needed win. We tried to speed up the game, knowing they only had six players, and got them to turn it over a good bit, and then our transition play was key in the later stages. Brittany was her fast self, getting the ball in the hands of open shooters for good looks, and Kelsey didn’t have her best night shooting but still led the team in scoring, and Danyale’s done what we’ve come to expect from her, getting near another double-double. We’re proud to have tied our program wins record so early in the season, but that just means we still have a lot of work left to do to achieve the goals we’ve set for ourselves.”
Kelsey Thaxton led the scoring attack for the Generals with 23 points in the contest. She also grabbed five rebounds and dished out a pair of assists. Danyale Bayonne finished the game with 19 points and also grabbed nine rebounds while also coming away with four steals. Courtney Dawsey went for 12 points, five rebounds, and two assists. E’Layzha Bates had her best scoring output of the season with 11 points to go with six rebounds and a blocked shot. Brittany Hall continued to be the distributor, scoring nine points but she also dealt out ten assists while she also came away with a pair of steals.
The Pilots ended up hitting for a better percentage in the game than the Generals did, 45.8% to 51.7%, but the key seemed to be that the Generals got off more shots on the bucket, putting up 13 more attempts overall than LSUS (5-11, 3-6 RRAC), which led to LSUA making three more baskets total than the Pilots, including one more made three-pointer, 6-5. LSUA forced 26 Pilot turnovers in the game, compared to just 18 for the Generals, which helped lead to the big difference in shot attempts, as did three more offensive rebounds for LSUA, even though the battle on the boards was fairly even. The Generals really had the transition game working, outscoring LSUS 39-14 in the fast break.
Tonight’s win tied the program record for wins in a single season, equaling the mark set by the inaugural team of 2014-15. #25 LSUA (14-4, 7-2 RRAC) looks to break that record in a week’s time as the final weekend of this five-game home stand begins with a game against Jarvis Christian. Tip-off against the Bulldogs (0-18, 0-7 RRAC) is set for 5:00 P.M. in The Fort.