NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Women's Basketball team was the one to deliver its significant defensive stand in crunch time securing a 44-41 win over New Orleans on Saturday, December 2 at Lakefront Arena.

Louisiana (3-2) held UNO (1-6) without a field goal make the game's final 3:06, fending off six field goal attempts, to preserve the winning margin in the return to regular season play following a two-week exhibition break.

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The Cajuns, who worked the entire first half for their first lead, reclaimed the lead for good after Mariah Stewart's layup with 9:19 to play ended a 6-0 Privateers run and made it 38-37.

UL found breathing room inside of seven minutes after Nubia Benedith knocked down a jumper from the top of the key at 6:51 and Destiny Rice converted a layup at 5:56, advancing the margin to 44-39 before entering full-protect mode.

Leading 44-41 as the clock dropped under three minutes to play, the Cajuns turned away two UNO layup attempts during the two-minute mark and got a key block from Stewart on a layup attempt with 0:39 left.

Louisiana forced UNO into poor shot selection from three-point range in the final 30 seconds to prevent any extra time being put on the clock when the regulation horn sounded. The final two stops were necessary after the Cajuns missed four free throws in the final minute with a chance to open a two-possession game.

The Cajuns collected their ninth straight win over the Privateers, and the 19th in the past 21 meetings dating back to the 2003-04 season, while improving to 64-14 vs. in-state schools in the Garry Brodhead era.

LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS

Tamera Johnson recorded a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double – both figures being game-high totals. Johnson also added five steals and a pair of assists to her stat line.

Benedith, who totaled 11 points, was the Cajuns' sparkplug as she ended the first half with the layup for a 25-24 lead and started the second half with a triple and subsequent made bucket that began to put the Privateers on their heels. She wound up with a team-high seven points after the halftime break.

Tamiah Robinson collected eight rebounds for her third straight game with five-plus boards. Rice contributed seven points and like Robinson dished an assist and collected a steal.

Stewart had her handprints all over the Cajuns' defensive effort as she swatted three shot attempts and swiped three steals to go along with her offensive production (four points).

HOW IT HAPPENED

New Orleans was the first to deliver a defensive stand, holding Louisiana scoreless for the first seven minutes of the game in building an 8-0 lead. Johnson was the first to solve the Privateers defense as she slashed through the lane for a layup at 2:57, starting an 8-1 quarter-ending run by the Cajuns.

While the shots weren't falling for the Cajuns they began to attack the UNO defense in the second quarter and the result was a 9-for-11 showing the free throw line that allowed the visitors to keep pace. A pair of Lanay Wheaton free throws at 3:42 evened the score at 18-all.

UNO rattled off a quick 5-0 run before the three-minute mark expired, but the Cajuns got a Johnson free throw and made their next two baskets to draw even at 23-all with 1:02 to play before the break.

A minute later the Ragin' Cajuns completed their battle back when Johnson grabbed the rebound off an air-ball, three-point attempt and started the fastbreak which led to Benedith's half-ending layup for a 25-24 lead.

Benedith continued to create distance by herself as the second half began, her triple to start the stanza was followed by a made basket at 8:43 that stretched the UL lead to 30-24.

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The Privateers crawled back within a point inside of five minutes before Louisiana extended the lead out to 36-31 after Wheaton drove baseline and dished to Ashlyn Jones for a made jumper at 2:50.

New Orleans made its final push, a 6-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters, pulling ahead 37-36 with 9:47 to play in the game on DeArica Pryor's made basket. The Ragin' Cajuns answered back quickly, going inside to Stewart and then Johnson to reassert control and grab a 40-37 lead by the 8:34 mark.

UP NEXT FOR LOUISIANA

After a break for final exams, the Ragin' Cajuns play their final non-conference road game of the season on Sunday, December 10 in Baton Rouge facing defending national champion and No. 7-ranked LSU in a 2:00 p.m. game at the PMAC.

Game coverage of the UL-LSU tilt includes live video on SECN+ (accessible via espn.com/watch), radio coverage on The GOAT 103.3 FM/1420 AM and live stats available at CajunStats.com.

Following the LSU contest, the Cajuns finish out the month of December at home in the Cajundome with a four-game homestand that begins on Wednesday, December 13 vs. Lamar and runs through Saturday, December 30 with the Sun Belt opener against App State.

FOLLOW THE RAGIN' CAJUNS

Follow the Ragin' Cajuns on Twitter (@RaginCajunsWBB), Facebook (/RaginCajunsWBB) or Instagram (@RaginCajunsWBB) to stay up-to-date on all that is happening with Louisiana Women's Basketball.

Fans are also encouraged to stay engaged with the Ragin' Cajuns by downloading the #GeauxCajuns app. Click here for iOS/Apple platforms and here for Android platforms.

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Gallery Credit: Dave Schultz

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