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McNeese State's Arianna James works the ball inside against Houston's Marissa Ashton. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

McNeese State's Arianna James works the ball inside against Houston's Marissa Ashton. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

Baggetts combine for 52 points as Cowgirls hold off Cougars

Last Modified: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 1:16 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Even at this point in their careers, the Baggett twins are capable of doing things we haven’t seen yet.

Despite sitting out a big chunk of the first half with foul trouble, Caitlyn Baggett scored a career-high 31 points to lead McNeese State to a 76-72 win over Houston Tuesday night at Burton Coliseum. She was 9 of 15 from the field and 11 of 13 from the free-throw line.

“We were trying to get their guards in foul trouble and getting easy scores by getting to the line or just going to the goal,” Baggett said.

Sister Ashlyn chipped in 21, including an awkward-looking left-handed shot from 10 feet that gave McNeese (2-1) a 62-60 lead with about 7 minutes left.

“I don’t remember that,” she said, completely serious. “I do so many crazy shots. I practice those all the time.”

On a team full of newcomers, the senior twins from Iota will be expected to carry much of the load early in the season. They showed themselves quite capable of the task against the Cougars (0-4).

“Since the twins have been here, I don’t know they’ve played any different role,” said Cowgirls coach Brooks Donald Williams. “They’re just taking it on their back right now trying to teach the younger ones. What better two people to learn from than them? There’s no question this will be the role throughout the year, and it’s going to help these younger ones in the future.”

The early absence of Caitlyn, who picked up her second foul less than 4 minutes into the game, helped Houston control the tempo early.

“I wasn’t very smart to get in quick foul trouble,” she said. “When I got back in I tried to show a little poise and not do anything stupid and outrageous.”

Even after her return, the Cougars went on a 12-6 run to go up 32-22. But the Cowgirls were able to stabilize in the final 4 minutes of the half and went into the locker room tied at 37.

“Cait did a tremendous job of controlling the tempo when she was in, which is a tough thing to do against a team like Houston that plays so up-tempo,” Donald Williams said. “She just played like Caitlyn plays. Very heady and extremely tough. She did everything we needed her to do.”

McNeese had trouble against Houston center Yasmeen Thompson, who hit her first eight shots. She finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, though she was held to 1 of 4 from the field late.

“Adrienne did a good job guarding her early. We honestly played a good team defensive game early,” Donald Williams said. “When we had some subs, we eased up and (Thompson) got loose. Once she got loose, she got fired up. We did not do a great job. We started helping up and did some things we do not want to do defensively that freed her up to get some easy baskets underneath. That’s something we have to get better at.”

Though the veteran Baggett twins scored the bulk of McNeese’s points, the biggest shot came from a newcomer.

Arianna James hit a jumper as time expired on the shot clock that put the Cowgirls up 74-69 with 37.9 seconds remaining. James’ shot was nearly from the same spot on the floor as the Kendra Wells jumper against Lamar that clinched the 2011 Southland title. She finished with 11 points and 10 boards.

“We have some luck in that spot right there,” Donald Williams said. “I’m proud of Ari. That’s a big-time shot. It was definitely the sealer of the game. She just plays so hard. That’s why we signed her. We had that in Kitty (Wells). So she has stepped into that role. She makes plays just on her effort.”

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