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The Bobcats cheer on senior guard Avionne Alexander (1) as her name is called as a starter before the game against Lamar University, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 69-53.

Texas State women’s basketball (3-2) will begin conference play with back-to-back games against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (1-4) Jan. 1-2.

Heading into the two-game series, the Bobcats are second in the West Division and on a two-game win streak. The visiting Louisiana at Lafayette team is sixth in the West Division, has the worst record in the entire Sun Belt and is on a three-game losing streak.

In Texas State’s last matchup Dec. 19, it defeated Lamar University 69-53. Both teams struggled to score in the first half as the game went into halftime tied at 22-22. The Bobcats began to pull away in the third quarter in large part due to the contributions of junior forward Da’Nasia Hood and sophomore forward Lauryn Thompson.

Hood continued to assert her will in the post in the fourth as Texas State cruised to the win to take its record over .500 for the first time this season.

Against the Cardinals, Hood finished with 22 points (8-13, 5-6 free throws) and nine rebounds. Thompson also had nine rebounds (four offensive) to go along with 16 points (4-5, 8-8 free throws).

So far this season, Texas State is 11th in points per game at 60.6 but its +3 scoring margin is fifth-best in the Sun Belt. The Bobcats have struggled shooting from the field through five games, only connecting on 24.4% of their three-pointers (11th in Sun Belt) and 35.6% (12th in Sun Belt) of their shots overall. The team does shoot well on free throws, connecting on 70.4% (fifth in Sun Belt) for 16.2 points a game from the line (third in Sun Belt).

Defensively, Texas State allows the least points in the conference (57.6) and the second-lowest opponent field goal percentage (24.7%). The Bobcats have managed to do so while only ranking seventh in steals per game (9) and 11th in blocks (1.6).

Hood leads Texas State in both scoring (19) and rebounding (9), ranking second and third in the conference, respectively. Junior guard Kennedy Taylor is fourth in the Sun Belt in steals per game (3.5) and fifth in assists per game (4.4) while averaging 12.2 points. Thompson is fourth in the conference in free throw percentage (92.3%) and is second on the team in rebounds (7).

In their last game Dec. 20, the Ragin’ Cajuns fell short to Louisiana Tech, losing 68-65 away. After keeping the game close during the first half, Louisiana would trail by as many as nine points in the third quarter before tying the game at 50-50 heading into the fourth.

The Ragin’ Cajuns held a slight lead for the majority of the final period but the Bulldogs stuck with it and took the lead with 0:20 left. Down by three points, Louisiana at Lafayette's hope for overtime was crushed as a last-second three-point attempt by freshman forward Tamera Johnson rimmed in and out, sealing the Louisiana Tech win. The loss dropped the Ragin’ Cajuns to 0-3 when playing on the road this season.

Louisiana at Lafayette 65.4 points per game ranks one spot ahead of Texas State; however, the Ragin’ Cajuns allow the third-most opponent points per game at 68.8 on 44.9% shooting. Offensively, Louisiana at Lafayette is fairly efficient, scoring 65.4 points per game on 38.1% shooting from the field, 30.6% from behind the arc and 75% from the line. The team also commits the fewest turnovers in the conference (15.4)

The Ragin’ Cajuns’ struggles are on the defensive side of the ball and on the boards. Louisiana allows the third-most points by its opponent (68.8), the second-highest opponent field goal percentage (44.9%) and records the fewest rebounds (33) in the Sun Belt.

Junior guard Brandi Williams leads the Ragin Cajun’s offensively with 12 points per game. Senior forward Ty’Reona Doucet averages a team-high in rebounds (6.6), is second on the team in scoring (10.6) and blocks the third-most shots per game in the Sun Belt (1.6).

Both games tip-off at 4 p.m. and will be played in Strahan Arena. The games can be streamed on ESPN+.

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