LAFAYETTE — The Ragin’ Cajuns women’s basketball team is occupying some rare air nationally to start the season, and if it continues its torrid stretch later this week, it’ll match a historic school mark as well.
At 5-0, the Cajuns are one of just 15 teams across the country that was still undefeated at the start of the week, and they are the only Louisiana school without a loss.
With a win against Southern-New Orleans on Saturday, the Cajuns will tie the 1983-84 team for the best start in school history.
“Another step for our program in the direction that we’re trying to get it to go in,” coach Gary Brodhead said.
In order to get where they currently are, the Cajuns have had to win in different ways.
The Cajuns have benefited from some strong guard play to start the season. Guards Jaylyn Gordon (17 points per game), Keke Veal (11.4 ppg) and Kia Wilridge (13.6 ppg) are the second-highest scoring trio in the Sun Belt Conference so far.
But the true test of this team came when it won without its offensive centerpieces, as it did when it beat Sam Houston State by nearly 20 points last weekend despite playing without Gordon (concussion) and with a limited Veal, who only played seven minutes while battling the flu.
“That’s 30 points that we started without,” Brodhead said. “We didn’t know how much we were going to play Keke with her problem with the flu.”
Brodhead believes he has a team that can scrap together a win without its best scorers because of the emphasis put on defense.
“We believe in defense,” Brodhead said. “You can win every night if you can defend.”
Brodhead said his team turned to the press — a tactic it hadn’t used much this year — to take some of the scoring stress off the rest of the team with Gordon and Veal sidelined.
The Cajuns scored 30 points off 30 Sam Houston State turnovers last weekend, limiting the Lady Bearkats to just 11 first-half points.
“The last couple of years we were strapped on the way we could play, and this year we’re able to play the way we want to,” Brodhead said. “With those two kids being out, we brought in three or four more kids that could really defend.
“It’s a good step, we’ll continue to work and I think it’ll work out.”