No one came up bigger than “Little Baggett” Wednesday night at the Lake Charles Civic Center.
Freshman Allison Baggett broke through for a career-high 19 points as the Cowgirls beat visiting Stephen F. Austin 66-60 for their third straight win, tying the longest streak of the season.
“I’m just so glad I could help out in any way in a big team win coming off a good road trip,” Baggett said. “I’ve learned how important it is to play defense first and the offense will come.”
It was a major breakthrough for the younger sister of the Baggett twins, who sat out for nearly the entirety of McNeese’s wins over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Sam Houston State earlier in January. She was put back into the Cowgirls’ rotation when Ashley Salazar went out with an injury and coach Brooks Donald Williams said Baggett has shown steady improvement since.
“Allison has stepped up big,” Donald Williams said. “She was kind of in a freshman lull. They all go through that. But when Salazar went out with an injury, Allison was automatic. She knew she had to step up. Her and Jayln (Johnson) both. She’s continuing to get better and stronger.”
Baggett had more than a scoring touch, grabbing a key offensive rebound with the Cowgirls (11-9, 6-3 Southland) holding a 52-51 lead with just over 4 minutes remaining. Sister Caitlyn hit a free throw on the possession that was kept alive.
In general, it was a good day to be a member of the McNeese bench. Freshman forward Charity Robinson made an impact with five rebounds in 6 minutes on the floor.
“We weren’t guarding the high-low very well and Charity came in and got big rebounds and a big stop,” Donald Williams said. “Charity’s a fun kid. She’s not always in the right place, but she seems to do good things wherever she is. Like all freshmen it’s about consistency every day, and she’ll get that as she continues to grow.”
Robinson’s play late in the second half helped stem a 10-0 Ladyjacks run that was power by nine consecutive SFA rebounds. SFA (9-11, 4-5) used that run to take its first lead of the game at 51-48 with 7:47 remaining.
The Cowgirls responded with a 9-0 run of their own as Ashlyn Baggett, Caitlyn Baggett and Robinson provided the scoring. The Ladyjacks made it 59-57 with just over a minute left, but Allison Baggett hammered down the last nail on a 3-pointer with 41 seconds to go. It’s a shot she probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to take just a couple weeks ago.
“No matter how many shots I missed (early in the season) my teammates were telling me ‘Keep shooting, keep shooting,’” Allison said. “So eventually I got it in my head and listened to them.”
All three Baggetts finished in double figures, with Caitlyn tying Allison with 19 and Ashlyn adding 12.
Porsha Roberts had a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds for SFA before fouling out in the final minute.