LSUS men repeat as champs, women fall

JOURNAL STAFF

Top-seeded and two-time defending champion LSU-Shreveport held off Louisiana Christian to claim the 2022 Red River Athletic Conference Tournament men’s basketball championship Tuesday night with a 69-63 win at Rapides Coliseum in Alexandria.

With the RRAC title, the Pilots booked their ticket to the NAIA national tournament as an automatic qualifier. LSUS is now 23-7 and ranked 21st in the nation.

LSUS’ Leondre Washington earned MVP honors with 25 points and nine rebounds in the title game and averaged 22.3 points per game in the tournament. He along with teammates Akeem White and Jeff Boyd were named to the All-Tournament team.

After four lead changes and two ties in the first half, it was Washington who put the Pilots ahead to stay with a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer to make it a 31-28 lead. The game stayed close early in the second half until Boyd capped a 7-0 run with a three-point play for a 45-36 lead. LSUS built its biggest lead of the game at 56-45 with just under 8 minutes remaining.

LCU was able to cut that lead to two on a 13-4 stretch that included a 3-pointer from former Airline star K.J. Bilbo. He hit another 3 at the 2:19 mark to close the gap to 63-61. But Trey Johnson scored on a three-point play seconds later and the Pilots were able to pull away from there.

Bilbo finished with 17 points to lead LCU, bidding to become the first team to win the RRAC tournament as a first-year member of the conference since LSUA in 2015.

LSUS got a double-double from White, who finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Johnson added 12 points and five assists. The Pilots outrebounded the Wildcats 47-36.

WOMEN

The Lady Pilots couldn’t stop Our Lady of the Lake from completing a perfect run through the RRAC this season as OLLU defeated LSUS 65-57 in the women’s conference tournament championship game Tuesday afternoon in Alexandria.

The Saints claimed their first tournament title since 2019 and their fourth all-time by holding on to the lead for the final three quarters.

OLLU completed a perfect 17-0 run through the conference including a 14-0 regular season and three tournament games. With the win the Saints earn an automatic berth in the NAIA national tournament. LSUS will wait to see if it will receive an at-large berth in the NAIA tourney, since Xavier will receive the RRAC’s second automatic due to its higher place in the final regular-season ratings.

This was the fifth time that OLLU (20-10) and LSUS (13-17) have met in the final with the Pilots winning three of the four previous contests.

Kiara Collins led four Lady Pilots in double figures with 15 points and was named to the All-Tournament team along with DeAuja Thompson, who had a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds. Angel Reese contributed 14 points and 9 rebounds and Tatym Barnes recorded 11 points.

Natalia Trevino scored 27 points for OLLU in the championship game and for her efforts was named the tournament MVP. OLLU’s Keviona Barber and Cormia Lewis both contributed 11 points and were named to the All-Tournament team.