Keke Veal and Jaylyn Gordon combined for 21 points in the final 8:58 and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns erased a 19-point deficit in the first half to defeat Oral Roberts, 65-64, in the semifinals of the Women's Basketball Invitational on Thursday at Earl K. Long Gym.
The win by Louisiana (22-12) moved the Ragin' Cajuns into Sunday's WBI Championship Game, where it will face Siena (22-12) in a 4 p.m. contest at Earl K. Long Gym.
Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for student. Tickets will go on sale beginning Friday at 10 a.m. at the Cajundome Box Office and RaginCajuns.com. Fans who attend the Louisiana-Arkansas State baseball game at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field can purchase WBI tickets for $5 with a ticket stub from Sunday's game.
Louisiana trailed 34-15 with 3:35 remaining in the first half after a bucket by ORU's Faith Ihim before closing out the half with an 8-1 run that was capped by a bucket from Simone Fields.
The Ragin' Cajuns outscored ORU (18-16), 42-29, in the second half as Veal and Gordon combined for 27 points in the final 20 minutes.
A 3-pointer by Veal with 8:58 remaining – the first 3-pointer of the night for the Ragin' Cajuns – began a 26-15 run for Louisiana and cut the ORU lead to 49-42. The junior followed on the Ragin' Cajuns ensuing possession with a three-point play that cut the deficit to 49-45 at the 8:26 mark.
Veal, who scored 23 points with five rebounds and five steals, followed with a pair of free throws that cut the lead to 49-47, Gordon drained a 3-pointer that gave Louisiana a 50-49 lead – its first lead since a 7-6 advantage at the 18:03 mark of the first half. Louisiana pushed its lead to 55-50 after Gordon buried another 3-pointer and Veal went coast-to-coast after rebounding an ORU miss.
Ihim , who led ORU with 22 points on 8 of 11 shooting, hit a pair of buckets that gave the Golden Eagles a 62-60 lead with 1:45 remaining before Veal tied the game with 1:16 left after rebounding a missed 3-pointer by Gordon.
Atoe' Jackson gave ORU a 64-62 lead with :54 seconds remaining before Veal drove the lane and found Fields for a three-point play that gave Louisiana the lead with 17.6 seconds remaining.
ORU attempted the get off a last shot, but had the ball knocked away by a tenacious Ragin' Cajuns defense near midcourt with 3.9 seconds left. After a timeout, Dorrttya Balla's inbounds pass to Heather McIntyre was knocked away by Veal and Gordon came up with the loose ball to secure the win for Louisiana.
Gordon scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half for Louisiana with Kia Wilridge added 12. Fields added nine points for the Ragin' Cajuns and was part of a defensive effort that kept the 6-foot-7 McIntyre in check.
McIntyre, averaging 15.6 points and a national leading 15.8 rebounds per game, grabbed 14 rebounds but had a string of 14 straight double-doubles snapped after finishing with seven points on 2 of 8 shooting. Jackson added 13 points for ORU with Jayden Oliver adding nine points on 3 of 6 aim from behind the 3-point line.
Louisiana finished 26-for-62 (41.9 percent) from the floor, 4-for-7 from behind the 3-point line and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. The Ragin' Cajuns forced 24 turnovers, which led to 26 points. ORU, which went 13-for-23 (56.5 percent) in the first half and 6-for-8 from long-range, finished 22-for-41 (53.7 percent) for the game and 7-for-15 from behind the 3-point line.