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McNeese State defeated Mercer 82-70 Thursday in the first round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational for its first-ever postseason victory and advanced to the second round at Elon for a 1 p.m. Saturday game. Senior guard Caitlyn Baggett led all players with a career-high 33 points and made a school-record 17 of 17 free throws. She was 10 of 14 from the field and was second on the team with six rebounds. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

McNeese State defeated Mercer 82-70 Thursday in the first round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational for its first-ever postseason victory and advanced to the second round at Elon for a 1 p.m. Saturday game. Senior guard Caitlyn Baggett led all players with a career-high 33 points and made a school-record 17 of 17 free throws. She was 10 of 14 from the field and was second on the team with six rebounds. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Cowgirls advance to second round of Women’s Basketball Invitational

Last Modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 9:07 AM

Special to the American Press

MACON, Ga. — McNeese State defeated Mercer 82-70 Thursday in the first round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational for its first-ever postseason victory and advanced to the second round at Elon for a 1 p.m. Saturday game.

Senior guard Caitlyn Baggett led all players with a career-high 33 points and made a school-record 17 of 17 free throws. She was 10 of 14 from the field and was second on the team with six rebounds.

Ashlyn Baggett pitched in 26 points and was 7 of 19 from the field, including two 3-pointers. Ashlyn was also 10 of 13 from the free-throw line.

The Cowgirls shot 47.1 from the field and 81.6 percent from the free-throw line. McNeese was led in rebounding by NeTanya Jones, who came off the bench to grab a career-high seven.

Mercer won the rebounding battle by an overwhelming 55-34 margin. The Bears grabbed 31 offensive boards, which allowed them to take 94 shots.

However, Mercer made 35.1 percent of its field goal attempts compared to 47.1 percent (24 of 51) for McNeese.

The Cowgirls were 31-for-38 from the line while Mercer was 3 of 4.

With the score tied at 54, McNeese scored six straight points, with four coming from Caitlyn to take a 60-54 lead with 5:20 left in the game.

Mercer came back with two straight baskets to cut the Cowgirls lead to two points, but the Cowgirls responded with a 10-0 run to take a 70-58 lead with 1:39 left in the game.

McNeese scored its final 10 points from the free-throw line with eight coming from Caitlyn.

The Cowgirls led 37-33 at halftime after five ties and 12 lead changes.

Mercer was led in scoring by Kendra Grant’s 27 points, a career high.

McNeese’s 82 points were the fifth-most allowed by Mercer in a single-game this season.

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