The defense for Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Basketball was not enough to account for the lack of offense in the team’s second-round 51–38 loss to the Appalachian State Mountaineers in the Sun Belt Women’s Basketball Championship.

In a game that saw the seventh-seeded Ragin’ Cajuns put up the lowest point total of their season, Louisiana quickly dug themselves into a hole against No. 10 seed App State after scoring the first two points of the game via a Caira Wren layup.

Louisiana did a sufficient job of holding App State in check for the majority of the game. The Ragin’ Cajuns defense forced several tough looks for the Mountaineers, who shot 27.6% in the first half (8–29) and 36.7% in the second half (8–22). All listed stats are provided by NCAA LiveStats by Genius Sports.

The defense was able to force 14 turnovers on App State. Sophomore forward Tamera Johnson accounted for two of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ six steals and one of the team’s four blocks. She also grabbed 10 total rebounds, six of them on defense.

The poor performance offensively in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ loss can be chalked up to both an inability to knock down shots and the defensive pressure applied by the Mountaineers.

App State’s subpar shooting percentage in the first half was the lesser of two evils compared to Louisiana’s 19.4% (6–31) first-half shooting percentage.

The Ragin’ Cajuns scored a total of four points at the conclusion of the first period, their second-lowest first-period point total this year. Allowing the Mountaineers to jump out to a 13–5 lead, 12 minutes and 44 seconds progressed in the game before Louisiana cracked the five-point mark. 

Louisiana has started slow before and come back to win on a couple of occasions this season, scoring five first-period points in a 54–38 win over the Abilene Christian Wildcats and eight first-period points in a 57–46 win over the UL-Monroe Warhawks. March 1 against App State wasn’t the case.

As a whole, the Ragin’ Cajuns shot just 14–59 (23.7%) on the evening and 1–13 from 3-point range. Junior guard Destiny Rice drained the lone 3-pointer for the team.

Third-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection Lanay Wheaton paced the team with 12 points on 6–18 shooting (33.3%). No other player exceeded five points in the contest.

With Louisiana playing from behind for over 38 minutes, four different guards finished with at least 20 minutes of playing time in an attempt to catch App State. Wheaton saw the court for 30 minutes while Nubia Benedith, Sherry Porter and Rice all saw 20-plus.

I explained previously that this year’s conference championship tournament would be wide open. Louisiana wasn’t the only team who suffered an upset.

The No. 11 seed Arkansas State Red Wolves also knocked off the No. 6 seed Georgia Southern Eagles in the second round and pushed the No. 3 seed Southern Miss Golden Eagles to the brink in their quarterfinals loss. 

App State advanced to give the No. 2 seed Texas State Bobcats all they could handle in the Mountaineers’ quarterfinals loss.

With the Ragin’ Cajuns unlikely to qualify for the women’s NCAA tournament this year, they’ll await a potential invite to the 2023 Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Louisiana participated in this year’s preseason WNIT from Nov. 15 to Nov. 20, losing to the Colorado Buffaloes, Jackson State Tigers and Texas Tech Red Raiders.

The 64-team field for the 2023 WNIT will be selected on Sunday, March 12 shortly after the women’s NCAA tournament field is announced with the first round beginning on Wednesday, March 15.