Late run leads LSUA women to victory

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NEW ORLEANS -- It wasn’t the prettiest of games for the LSUA women’s basketball team, but the Generals scored seven of the last nine points in the contest to pull away late for a 65-57 win over Southern University New Orleans Monday night at The Castle to sweep the home-and-home season series against the Lady Knights.

Call it a Thanksgiving hangover, but the first quarter was low on scoring as both teams found it difficult to score the basketball. SUNO led most of the period, getting the lead up to three points twice, which would be the largest lead of the period. With LSUA trailing 9-6, Brittany Hall and Aja Law, off of a Hall assist, each scored to put the Generals out front for the second time in the contest with less than a minute left to put the Generals up 10-9. However, the Lady Knights scored on a put back just before the buzzer sounded and SUNO took an 11-10 lead into the second quarter.

With the Generals trailing 18-15, Kelsey Thaxton seemed to get the LSUA offense going as she nailed a three-pointer to tie the score. That bucket also started a 7-0 Generals run that gave LSUA the largest lead of the game up to that point as Courtney Dawsey found Danyale Bayonne open for a jumper that was good and a 22-18 score with less than four minutes left before halftime. SUNO fought back and retook the lead on a bucket by Alexis Handy with just more than two minutes left that put the Lady Knights up 23-22. But it was the Generals that finished the half strong as Kelsey Thaxton’s jumper on the ensuing possession started a 10-2 run to give LSUA the largest lead of the first half as Bayonne sank a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to put the Generals up 32-24. SUNO got another bucket right before the horn to close the scoring in the half to make the halftime score 32-26 LSUA.

SUNO came out of the break and whittled that lead down to nothing, going back on top of the Generals at 37-36 on a Kira Mercado put back with just less than 6:30 left in the third quarter. LSUA wouldn’t allow the Lady Knights to enjoy that lead long as Thaxton gave the Generals the lead right back on the ensuing possession with a three-pointer that starting another seven-point spurt for the Generals that got the lead back up to six points as Hall found Dawsey open for a jumper and a 43-37 LSUA lead with 4:45 left in the period. The Generals would push the lead to six points twice more in the quarter, but SUNO would cut the lead to two points with just more than 30 seconds left before the Generals got a free throw from Aja Law to bump the Generals advantage back up to 49-46 when the quarter ended.

Danyale Bayonne got the first bucket of the fourth quarter to put LSUA up five, but SUNO rattled off the next six to retake the lead as Victoria Udechi’s lay-up gave the Lady Knights a 52-51 lead with less than eight minutes remaining. But when Aja Law sank a pair of free throws on LSUA’s next possession, it gave the Generals a lead they would not relinquish. Those free throws started another 7-0 LSUA push to get the Generals up 58-52 as Bayonne scored while being fouled and completed the old-fashioned three-point play with 5:51 left. SUNO cut that down to three points with just more than five minutes left, but five straight LSUA points, including another basket and one by Bayonne, put the game out of reach as LSUA took a 63-55 lead with just more than four minutes left. The defenses locked down from there as each team only made one bucket apiece over the final four minutes to close out the game.

“I feel we closed out the game well,” said LSUA head coach Bob Austin. “We got the buckets we needed, including a couple key shots while fighting through contact there at the end to get some big three-point play opportunities that we converted. And I also think we controlled the clock well, running time down when we needed to and shortened the game to not give them a good chance at any late runs. I was also very pleased with how we battled for rebounds because I believe our advantage on the boards was a major factor in coming out with the win tonight.”

Danyale Bayonne continued her rugged scoring pace, collecting her second double-double of the season with 22 points and 11 rebounds, which led the game in both categories. She was also credited with six steals and two assists with a blocked shot. Kelsey Thaxton rode a solid first half to 17 points in the game. Aja Law picked up her first official collegiate double-double with 12 points and ten rebounds. Brittany Hall did a good job filling the box score with seven points, five assists, five steals, and eight rebounds. While not her best shooting night, Courtney Dawsey helped others score as she was credited with nine assists.

Both teams struggled from the field with LSUA scoring on 32.1% of its shots while SUNO hit on 35.8% from the field. The four three-pointers the Generals made in the game were the only four made by the two teams combined as SUNO (3-8) failed to convert any of their 13 attempts from deep. Just like in the season opener in The Fort, the Generals held a decided advantage on the boards, grabbing 53 rebounds with 25 coming on the offensive end compared to 42 total rebounds for the Lady Knights, 15 being offensive. LSUA defeated SUNO 70-41 to open the season on October 25th.

LSUA (6-2) looks to avenge its first home loss of the season this Saturday as the Generals look to return the favor to Dillard in the return game of the home-and-home series. Tip-off against the Lady Bleu Devils (7-2) is set for 6:00 P.M. in Dent Hall.