Lafayette, La. - Louisiana used a pair of big runs and outscored the Youngstown State women's basketball team by 15 in the second half to win 69-49 in the semifinals of the 2016 Women's Basketball Invitational on Wednesday evening at the Cajundome.
Youngstown State's season ends with a 21-13 record while Louisiana advances to the WBI Championship Game for the second straight season against either Weber State or USC-Upstate.
Nikki Arbanas made three 3-pointers to set a new school record for 3-pointers in a season with 89. Her third of the game cut YSU's deficit to 42-39 with 6:23 left in the third period, but that was the Penguins' final basket of the third period. Louisiana went on a 23-2 run that stretched into the fourth period that put the game out of reach.
Youngstown State battled foul trouble for most of the game as starting posts Sarah Cash and Janae Jackson were both whistled for a pair of fouls in both the first and third periods. YSU head coach John Barnes disagreed enough with what he believed was one-sided officiating that he was issued his first technical foul in 97 games as the Penguins' leader.
Jackson, the program's lone senior, finished the best year of her career with 11 points, and Arbanas matched her for team-high honors. Kelsea Newman added eight points and made two of YSU's eight 3-pointers in the game.
Youngstown State led 13-8 on a Cash basket with 3:57 left in the first period, but Louisiana's next trip down the floor resulted in five points and a second foul on Cash. Jodi Quinn hit a jumper, and Jackson was called for a foul trying to position for a rebound. Simone Fields scored on the impending inbounds pass, was fouled by Cash and made the free throw to complete the three-point play.
Louisiana went ahead 15-13 as Keke Veal completed a 7-0 run, and Jackson scored on YSU's next possession to tie the score for the final time at 15-15. The Ragin' Cajuns then went on a 17-4 run that saw them take a 32-19 lead with 6:49 left in the second period. Youngstown State answered with a 14-4 spurt that featured two 3-pointers by both Benjamin and Newman to get within 36-31 with 1:58 remaining in the half, and the teams traded two-pointers before the break.
Arbanas' record setting 3 came 90 seconds into the third period, and it cut what was a 13-point deficit down to two, 38-36. Arbanas made another 3 to make the score 42-39 at the 6:23 mark, but YSU's long scoring drought followed. Louisiana scored the final nine points of the third period to go up 51-39, and the Ragin' Cajuns scored 14 straight points early in the fourth to go up 65-41 with 5:34 remaining. The lead was at least 20 the rest of the game.
Kia Wilridge finished with a game-high 22 points to lead Louisiana, and Veal vollowed with 19 points and four steals. The Ragin' Cajuns held advantages of 42-18 in the paint and 16-0 on fast break points.