LAFAYETTE – Playing in the final game of her career, senior Robbie Brown sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:16 remaining and added a steal in the closing seconds that lifted the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns women’s basketball team to a 52-50 win over Siena College in the championship game of the 2015 Women’s Basketball Invitational on Sunday at Earl K. Long Gym.
Keke Veal turned in an MVP performance for Louisiana (23-12), the No. 2 seed in the West Region, scoring a game-high 20 points while grabbing six rebounds.Jaylyn Gordon and Kia Wilridge, who were each named to the all-tournament team, scored seven and six points each for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who built a 14-point lead in the second half before holding off Siena (22-13), the No. 3 seed in the East Region, in the end.
Louisiana led 44-30 with 12:15 remaining on a basket by Gabby Alexander before Siena scored 11 straight points to cut the lead to 44-41 at the 6:42 mark. Ida Krogh started the rally for the Saints with a 3-pointer before consecutive buckets by Meghan Donohue, a layup by Kollyns Scarbrough and a jumper by Symone Kelly cut the Cajuns lead to three.
Tehresa Coles would give Siena its first lead since the opening minute of the game when her two free throws gave the Saints a 48-47 lead with 1:44 remaining. But Brown, who played in a school-record 125 games in her Ragin’ Cajuns career, gave Louisiana the lead for good on the ensuing possession as her 3-pointer from the right wing put the Ragin’ Cajuns ahead, 50-48.
A layup by Krogh, after Veal made one of two free throws, cut the Louisiana lead to 51-50 with 13 seconds remaining and the Saints got a chance to win on the final possession after Gordon missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Brown then knocked the ball away from Krogh and was fouled with 1.2 seconds left and made one of two free throws to seal the win.
The Ragin’ Cajuns pulled away from a 5-4 lead in the first half, building a 20-8 advantage after a bucket by Alexander at the 9:36 mark. The Saints got as close as 30-22 after two free throws by Emia Willingham with 3:03 remaining, but a bucket by Wilridge would help give Louisiana a 34-24 lead at halftime.
Siena, which posted a 13-win improvement from last season and dressed nine players due to injuries, scored four straight points to open the second half as Donohue sank a pair of free throws and Coles added a bucket. Louisiana quickly pushed the lead back to double digits as two straight layups by Veal gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 38-28 lead with 16:07 left.
Louisiana, which forced 21 turnovers, collected 12 steals against Siena to finish with 48 in the four-game tournament. Wilridge, who had five steals in the game and finished the season with 100, became the fifth player overall and the first since Kim Perrot in 1989-90 to record 100 steals in a season.
The Ragin’ Cajuns finished 19-for-45 (42.2 percent) from the floor, 3-for-12 (25.0 percent) from behind the 3-point line and 11-for-17 (64.7 percent) from the free throw line. Siena finished 17-for-44 (38.6 percent) from the floor, 2-for-10 (20.0 percent) from long range and 14-for-17 (82.4 percent) from the charity stripe.
Coles, who was named to the all-tournament team, and Donohue scored 13 points each to lead Siena. Margot Hetzke pulled down six rebounds to lead the Saints with Krogh adding eight points and five rebounds.