By Dan Hiner
Going into the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team’s game against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, both teams knew they would be able to score.
Even though both teams got off to a hot start, the Penguins were unable to keep pace with Louisiana and fell to the Ragin’ Cajuns 69-49 in the Women’s Basketball Invitational semifinals.
YSU started the game on a hot streak. The Penguins went 4-7 from the floor in the first five minutes of the game. But the Ragin’ Cajuns offense went on a 13-4 run in the final 3:37 of the first quarter. Louisiana had a 21-17 lead heading into the second quarter.
Louisiana carried its momentum into the second half. The Ragin’ Cajuns continued their run from the first quarter by scoring the first eight points of the second half to extend its lead to 29-17.
YSU responded by outscoring Louisiana 16-9 in the final 7:22 of the second quarter. YSU guards Indiya Benjamin and Kelsea Newman combined to hit four straight 3-pointers during the team’s run.
Louisiana guard Keke Veal scored the final basket of the first half, but the Penguins cut the Ragin’ Cajuns lead to 38-33 at halftime.
Both teams hit everything from the field in the first half. Louisiana shot 52 percent from the field, and YSU hit 50 percent of its shots. YSU took advantage of its 3-point shooting in the first half. The Penguins shot 6-15 from behind the 3-point line.
The Penguins’ offense struggled in the third quarter. YSU had trouble holding onto the ball and committed five turnovers. Louisiana held the Penguins to four points in the third. The Ragin’ Cajuns finished the third quarter on a 9-0 run and took a 51-39 lead into the fourth quarter.
Things didn’t go much better for the Penguins in the fourth quarter. The Ragin’ Cajuns outscored YSU 14-2 during the first 4:56 of the fourth quarter. The Penguins attempted a comeback, but it was too little too late.
YSU was unable to over come second half turnovers and missed shots. The Penguins turned the ball over 18 times, 10 in the second half. YSU shot 5-24 (20.8 percent) in the second half.
The Penguins didn’t have an answer for Louisiana guards Kia Wilridge and Veal. Wilridge scored a game-high 22 points and Veal was second on the team with 19 points and eight rebounds.
YSU guards Nikki Arbanas and Janae Jackson led the way for the Penguins with 11 points.
The Penguins season concludes with a 21-13 record, YSU’s third straight 20-win season.