Lady Lions ride fourth-quarter surge to cruise by Cardinals


Chase Gispert

Senior forward Natalie Kelly denies Cardinals’ Chloe Storer at the rim during SLU’s victory on Thursday night at the University Center. (Feb. 2, 2023)

Southeastern women’s basketball defeated UIW on Thursday evening at the University Center 72-50, avenging their Jan. 14 loss to the Cardinals in blow-out fashion. 

After a scoreless opening three and a half minutes, things finally began to pick up during the first quarter of action as UIW jumped out to an 8-4 advantage. 

SLU then went on a 12-1 over the final 3:28 of the period to reign supreme, 16-9. 

The Lady Lions would also win the second quarter and lead 27-17 at the half. 

Trailing by ten combined with the intermission seemed to fuel the Cardinals, as they had their best period of play scoring 21 points during the third quarter to cut the lead down to six, 44-38.

Two minutes into the fourth, Jorja Elliot’s three pulled UIW within two possessions 47-43 and suddenly there was a nervous energy over the Hammond crowd. 

Ayla Guzzardo’s side answered the bell, partaking in a 25-7 blitz over the final 8:01 of the contest to win big. 

Junior guard Hailey Giaratano had a superb night totaling 20 points to pair with eight rebounds. 

“Today we just really focused on playing together. Last time we played them we were really stagnant around the perimeter. Today we cut, looked for the open person, and shared the ball really well,” said Giaratano on the key to victory this time around vs. the Cardinals.

Fellow junior backcourt member Daija Harvey dropped 13 points backed by her hot hand from three-point land. The Donaldsonville native shot 4-6 from beyond the arc tying her season-high for makes in that department. 

Senior forward Natalie Kelly posted a career-best 14 points to go along with seven rebounds and an absurd five blocks; using her 6’3 frame to impose her will under the glass on both ends of the floor. 

As a team, Southeastern shot 50% (28-56) on the night while holding UIW to just 34.7% (17-49). 

The Green and Gold held the edge on the boards as well, out-rebounding their opponents 39-27. 

Ball movement was also on display as the Lady Lions doubled the Cardinals in assists, 18-9.

Next on the agenda for SLU is another home game, this time against first-place Texas A&M Corpus-Christi. The Islanders are 9-1 in the Southland and 14-7 overall with their only conference blemish coming against the Lady Lions 53-46 in San Antonio back in mid-January.

“We know how big that game is. We’re ready for it…  Every time we play them it’s a big game. They’re a well-coached team with great players. They can do it all. We’ve just got to play our style. If we play our style, we’re going to win a lot of ball games,” said coach Guzzardo on the challenge the Islanders present to her squad. 

Southeastern is 12-8 (7-3 SLC) following their 22-point thumping of UIW and will look to help their Southland title odds against TAMU-CC. 

The Lady Lions battled it out with the Islanders earlier this afternoon at the University Center.  

Expect further coverage to come your way within the next 24 hours.