The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

SLU victorious in duel with rival Lady Lions, win sixth consecutive game

Sophomore+SLU+point+guard+Jalencia+Jen+Pierre+speeds+past+a+Texas+A%26M-Commerce+defender+and+extends+for+the+easy+layup.+%28Jan.+20%2C+2024+-+Hammond%29
Kennith Woods
Sophomore SLU point guard Jalencia “Jen” Pierre speeds past a Texas A&M-Commerce defender and extends for the easy layup. (Jan. 20, 2024 – Hammond)

The SLU women’s basketball team continued to have a joyful new year with a convincing 65-49 win over Southland Conference (SLC) rival Texas A&M Commerce (SLC, 3-3) in the Pride Roofing University Center. Their victory extended their win streak to six games. 

The Lady Lions closed 2023 on a dreadful four-game skid, plummeting their record to 4-7 overall. The new year has rejuvenated the Green and Gold, though; they’ve won six straight games against conference opponents, reflecting the grit and moxie that made them first-time SLC champions nearly a year ago. Their flawless dominance has catapulted them to the conference’s top seed. 

The Saturday, Jan. 20 affair against Commerce was a rematch of last year’s SLC women’s championship semifinal. The game was an instant classic, culminating in a game-winning runner off-glass from senior guard Hailey Giaratano, sending SLU to the final and eventually their first-ever conference championship.

The rematch proved to be much less dramatic than its semifinal predecessor. The Green and Gold executed a wire-to-wire victory over the rival Lady Lions, proving that even after a year’s passing, the cats from SLU still reign supreme.  

The first quarter commenced with an offensive barrage from sophomore guard Jalencia “Jen” Pierre, including a couple of midrange jumpers near the elbow. She finished the night with a game-high 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. After taking an 8-7 lead, a 3-pointer from junior guard Arianna Patton ignited a 12-3 SLU run to close the quarter with a double-digit lead, 20-10. 

SLU opened the second with sluggish play, however, allowing Commerce to shrink the lead and build momentum. A few missed looks in the paint, sloppy turnovers and a pair of threes from Commerce junior guard Dorian Norris cut SLU’s lead to six. 

The Green and Gold regained stability, flashed their championship resolve and simmered the brewing Commerce comeback with timely baskets from multiple players. Graduate student forward Kennedy Paul sank two free throws before junior guard Dijone’ Flowers drained a three to bring the lead up to double digits once again. Later on, Giaratano knocked down a clean jumper in the paint, sending the PRUC into an uproar. SLU headed into halftime firmly in the driver’s seat, 38-24. 

On the box sheet, the dueling Lady Lions posted strikingly similar statlines; neither team shot the ball efficiently and both recorded 15 turnovers, three blocks and seven steals. SLU separated themselves from Commerce with a 47-37 rebounding advantage, a 17-5 advantage in fastbreak points, a 32-22 advantage in bench points and a 32-20 advantage in points in the paint. These sizable differences ultimately dictated the game’s outcome.

Commerce posed little threat of staging a rally in the second half. SLU’s staunch defense and excellent rebounding kept Commerce’s offense at bay. In particular, Paul and junior guard Taylor Bell hauled in eight and seven boards, respectively, outmuscling Commerce down low and creating more opportunities on the offensive end. 

Alongside her seven rebounds, Bell tallied 12 points and dished four assists. She credited the team for her productive outing, saying she benefited from them making the right plays. 

“My coaches and my teammates help me get to the right spot. Everyone made the right passes and the right plays, because at the end of the day, all we care about is a win,” Bell said. 

SLU Head Coach Ayla Guzzardo commended her team’s defense and rebounding and complimented the bench for their monstrous production in the replacement of some injured players. 

“Our bench really stepped up. Some people stepped up in some big roles. We got some offensive rebounds we hadn’t gotten in the past…ultimately, it comes down to our defense. We get defensive stops,” Guzzardo said.

Junior guard Mackenzie Thomas padded SLU’s lead with a little over two minutes left in the third. In the fourth, a couple of jumpers from Pierre and Thomas and another 3-pointer from Patton officially put this game on ice. SLU won the rematch and their sixth match in a row, 65-49. 

Pierre said her team needs to continue practicing a “goal mindset” and open each game with tenacious energy. She said in her view, that strategy will bring them closer to clinching back-to-back SLC championships. 

“At the end of the day, we still have to play ball. Today, we came out punching. Next game, we have to keep punching and get good results,” Pierre said. 

Hall expressed a similar sentiment and said they need to continue functioning as a cohesive unit if they want to make another deep postseason run.  

“We just have to keep having that ‘keep winning’ mentality. We’re trying to win it all, and we have to do it together,” Bell said. 

The Lady Lions are on the prowl in Texas this week, with games against HCU tonight, Jan. 25, and Lamar on Saturday, Jan. 27. Guzzardo expressed confidence in her squad’s ability to play on the road, saying they can “play their game” if they aren’t distracted by the hostile environment.  

“We play really well on the road. There are a lot less distractions…we just have to be comfortable and play our style. We can’t let anyone take us out of the game,” Guzzardo said. 

Fans can watch both games on ESPN+ and listen to their match against Lamar on KSLU Radio. Visit Lion Sports and The Lion’s Roar for more information on SLU women’s basketball.   

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About the Contributor
Kennith Woods, News Editor
Kennith Woods is a sophomore communication major with a concentration in television and multimedia journalism and a creative writing minor. A resident of Prairieville, Kennith is The Lion’s Roar’s newly-minted news editor. His passion for progressive change within our communities is the driving factor behind his educational pursuits, as he wants to use journalism to facilitate vital information to the public and simultaneously serve as a mouthpiece for the people’s needs and concerns.
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