LAFAYETTE — Although the Ragin’ Cajuns were able to withstand a five-point play on Monday night, five more minutes proved to be too much to overcome.
ULM used a five-point play with 24 seconds left to force overtime against Louisiana-Lafayette’s women’s basketball team at the Cajundome. Five minutes later, the Warhawks walked off the court with a 67-60 win.
“It’s a tough game ... disappointing,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said.
“We had an opportunity to win, but we go 8-for-21 (on free throws) in regulation and overtime.”
The Cajuns held a 53-50 lead when the Warhawks’ Chelsea Tieuel hit a 3-pointer. During that action, Cajuns guard Keke Veal was called for a foul for running through a ULM screen. The ensuing free throws by Christina Gray put ULM up by two.
“(The officials) said she was in the act of shooting (the 3-pointer when the foul happened),” Brodhead said.
After that momentum swing, the Cajuns still had one chance. Kia Wilridge was fouled with four seconds left. She stepped to the line and canned a pair of free throws to send the contest to overtime.
“That situation is pressure on anybody — I don’t care if you are LeBron James or anybody else,” Wilridge said. “Like (assistant) coach Jordan (Hines) says, ‘I had to have amnesia about the free throws I had missed before.’ ”
During the extra period, Veal opened the scoring by making a jumper one minute in, but the Warhawks responded by going on an 11-2 run to take command. Gray converted a 3-point play before Sharnice Brooks connected on two free throws to put ULM on top 64-59 with 43 seconds left. The Warhawks went ahead by as much as seven when Daja Chase made a free throw with 13 seconds left to make the count 66-59. The teams traded free throws in the last seven seconds to account for the final score.
“Brooks did a good job for them,” Brodhead said. “When you are sitting behind a 6-foot-2 kid (on defense), it’s tough. We didn’t want to put them at the line, but give them credit. They did a good job of finishing (at the rim).”
Wilridge finished with 14 points to lead four Cajuns in double figures. Robbie Brown scored 12 points on four 3-pointers. Jaylyn Gordon had 11 points. Simone Fields chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Warhawks had 23 turnovers, but they offset that by shooting 45 percent from the floor and going 18-for-24 on free throws. Brooks, who came in averaging 13.2 points, had 22 points and eight rebounds for ULM (6-10, 2-5 in the Sun Belt).
“We moved a little slow (defensively),” Brown, a senior guard, said. “Then when they got the ball to their post players and ran their offense through them, it broke us down defensively a little bit.”
The Cajuns (11-5, 3-4) will wrap up their 3-game homestand at 5 p.m. Thursday against Arkansas State.
“We were not moving the ball well against the zone (defense) and we struggled early to attack the zone,” Brodhead said. “We made some good adjustments, but we still have to keep working on our offense.”