Ladies Close Strong to Defeat McNeese State
Saturday, December 30, 2006

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Box Score

Cierra Bush had her third-straight
game in double figures

Bethany Joseph had 11 of the Ladies
23 points to close the game

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Sparked by a strong finish, the Centenary women’s basketball team (4-10) earned a 75-59 win over McNeese State (2-10) Saturday at the Gold Dome. For the first time this season, four players scored in double figures for the Ladies, led by 18 points by sophomore Cierra Bush.

After Centenary led by 12 at the start of the second half, careless and conservative play by the Ladies allowed McNeese State back into the game, with the Cowgirls taking a 55-52 lead midway through the second half.

Gathering their bearings after trailing for the first time since McNeese State took a 2-0 lead 36 seconds into the game, Centenary would go on a 23-4 run to close the game and earn the 16-point win.

As far as holding the Cowgirls to just four points over the final 10 minutes, Centenary head coach Steve Curtis said his team just executed better. Curtis alluded to his team controlling its own destiny with its play.

"We just did what we do better and we talk about that a lot," Curtis said. "McNeese came at us hard at the start of the second half and we didn’t really respond. They had all the momentum. I was really pleased Jasmine (Bothwell), Bethany (Joseph) and Leslie (Forest). The three freshman came off the bench and did a great job for us."

Curtis pointed out a single play by Bothwell that really ignited the Ladies after falling behind.

Leading 58-55 after a Joseph free throw, Bothwell swarmed McNeese State guard Brittany Boone near the sideline. Not allowing Boone to penetrate, Bothwell forced a turnover by Boone, diving on a loose ball and bringing the crowd to its feet in congratulatory cheer for the freshman guard’s all-out effort.

Centenary would score nine-straight points following Bothwell’s steal, taking a 12-point lead over McNeese State with less than six minutes remaining. The Ladies, who start Mid-Continent Conference play against Western Illinois next weekend, would hold no less than a 10-point lead for the remainder of the game.

Joseph, a freshman guard from New Iberia, La., had 11 of the 23 points scored by the Ladies in the final 10 minutes of the contest. She finished the game with 14 points, going 4-of-8 from the field.

Centenary opened Saturday’s game on tear, scoring 13 consecutive points to take a 13-2 lead five minutes into the contest and shooting 51.6 percent (16-for-31) from the field in the opening half.

Bush register her third-straight game in double figures with her 18 points. For the last three games, the sophomore has scored 20, 27 and 18 points, coming into her own in her second season with the Ladies. Coming off of screens and driving to the hoop for running jumpers, Bush had 13 of her 18 points in the first half, helping Centenary build the 12-point lead at the intermission.

Of her recent play, Bush says that she is taking advantage of openings in the opposition’s defense and going up strong with her opportunities.

Joining Bush and Joseph in double figures, seniors Jelena Aleksic (Belgrade, Serbia) and Holli Wilkins (Evadale, Texas) had 13 and 12 points, respectively. Freshman guard Shonice Sprouse led the Cowgirls with 17 points

For the game, Centenary shot 46.4 percent from the floor and hit 31.6 percent of its three-point chances.

Wilkins made history in Saturday’s win, becoming the all-time steals leader in Centenary women’s basketball history. Less than two minutes into the game, Wilkins picked up her 187th career steal, moving past former Ladies guard Julie Danieles for the No. 1 spot. She finished with five steals in the win.

The Ladies now move their focus to next weekend’s conference opener.

Asked of his team’s progress thus far this season, Curtis says as long as his team continues to get better, they’ll have chance to succeed during the conference schedule.

"We don’t talk about wins and the number of wins. We talk about getting better," Curtis said. "In November, we said we want to be better on Dec. 20 than we were on Nov. 20 and so on. And I feel like we’re getting better and the kids are playing with better confidence."